Felony Charges

Felony crimes are the most serious criminal offenses in the state of Michigan.  Any criminal offense that carries with it the possibility of more than one year of incarceration is considered a felony level criminal offense.

Because felony cases have more serious penalties than misdemeanor cases, they follow a slightly different court process than misdemeanor offenses.  While both felony and misdemeanor cases start off in the District Court, a felony case will eventually move to Circuit Court for trial or resolution by plea agreement (unless it can be resolved in the District Court for a misdemeanor or it gets dismissed).

The process used to move felony criminal offenses from the District Court to the Circuit Court is called the Probable Cause Conference and Preliminary Examination.  A Probable Cause Conference is typically held within 5-7 days following your arraignment on the felony matter.  At the Probable Cause conference, the West Michigan Defense Team, as your attorneys, begin potential reduced plea and other discussions with the prosecuting attorney, although it is fairly rare for a felony case to be completely resolved so early in the process.

Instead, at the Probable Cause Conference, the prosecuting attorney typically places some reduced plea option on the table in the hope that you will voluntarily forgo or “waive” your Preliminary Examination and allow the case to move to Circuit Court.  You are under no obligation to do so however.

If you decide not to voluntarily waive your Preliminary Examination, it will be held approximately 5-7 days after the Probable Cause Conference.  At that hearing the prosecutor is required to produce enough evidence to show two things: (1) a felony level crime was committed; and (2) more likely than not, you were the one that probably committed it.  The prosecutor does not need to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  They only have to show that you “probably” committed the offense and if they do, then the case will proceed to Circuit Court.

Once in Circuit Court the matter will be set for a Status Conference, which is typically within 4 to 6 weeks after the last District Court appearance.  The Status Conference is generally “decision day” – in that you will have to make a decision to accept available plea options, or take the matter to trial.

Because felony crimes are the most serious criminal offense you may face, it is crucial to have the right attorneys representing you.  At the West Michigan Defense Team we have attorneys with experience to take care of your felony case, no matter what the charge may be.  Call us today for help at (616) 456-5457.

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(616) 233-9162



If I am convicted of a felony, can I still own a firearm?

The answer is no.  A felony conviction prohibits you from possessing or owning a firearm.  However, once your have completed your sentence and probation, and the mandatory amount of time has passed, depending on the conviction, you can petition to have your gun rights restored.  Additionally, if you currently own firearms and are then convicted of a felony, while you are not required to sell the firearms, you are not allowed to have them in your possession or under your control – which means they will have to be removed from any place, like your home, that is under your control.

What is the difference between a felony and a high court misdemeanor?

In reality, there is no true difference between the two.  In the eyes of the court system, how they are treated by prosecuting attorneys and how the police view them, they are one in the same.  A high court misdemeanor is essentially a lower level felony.  But it is NOT a misdemeanor, despite its name.

Is there a way to keep a felony off my record?

Yes, under certain circumstances.  There are a variety of “diversion” programs in the state of Michigan that you may be eligible for, depending on the felony you are convicted of.  The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (“HYTA”) can be applied to individuals between the ages of 17-23 years old for certain offenses.  MCL 333.7411 (“7411”) can be used for certain drug related offenses.  A diversion program works by entering a “conditional” guilty plea with the court.  But the guilty plea is not entered into the system.  Instead you would be placed on a period of probation (jail time is rare in diversion cases but it is possible) and as long as you complete your probation term without any probation violations, then the conditional guilty plea gets rejected, the case gets dismissed and a felony does not end up on your criminal record.  Incidentally, both HYTA and 7411 can also be utilized for misdemeanor offenses.


If I am convicted of a felony will I have to go to jail or prison? 

Whether you go to jail or prison depends, in large part, on the crime you are convicted of and your past criminal record, if any.  The more serious the crime, the more likely you will be sent to jail or prison.  It also depends on the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, which while no longer mandatory in the state of Michigan, are still used by judges in determining the appropriate sentence.  The Michigan Sentencing Guidelines calculate a sentence range

Contact WMDT

West Michigan Defense Team
77 Monroe Center St NW, Ste 700
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 233-9162


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