District courts in Michigan handle only misdemeanors from arraignment to sentencing.
Misdemeanors are crimes punishable by up to one year in the county jail and/or fines up to $1,000.
Arraignment is the first court procedure. A plea is entered by the defendant (guilty, innocent, stand mute) and a bond is set. The purpose of the bond is to insure that the defendant will appear in court on the designated court dates. In some cases the judge may set bond conditions, i.e., in a domestic violence case a no contact order with victim may be imposed.
Pretrial is a court procedure where the defendant or defendant's attorney meet with the prosecuting attorney to discuss the charges and try to reach a plea agreement. At this time a request can be made for a jury trial (the decision will be made by a jury) or a bench trial (the decision will be made by the judge) to be held.
All sentences are determined by the judge. These can be fines and costs, probation, incarceration (jail), driver license sanctions, and/or mandatory attendance of various programs. The program will be designated according to the needs of the individual and crime; i.e., a drug crime will require drug counseling, a domestic violence crime will require an anger management program.
The first procedure is for the defendant to be arraigned. At this time a plea is entered and a bond is set. The purpose of the bond is to insure that the defendant will appear in court on the designated court dates. In some cases there may also be bond conditions set; i.e., in a domestic violence case a no contact order with victim.
In some cases a defendant may be able to enter a plea to a lesser charge. By doing this, the case would stay in district court for the District Judge to handle to completion. Non-serious offenses could be handled in this manner.
If a plea is not a viable option, a preliminary exam or sometimes called a probable cause hearing will be held. At this time two things are determined, (a) that a crime was committed and (b) there is probable cause to believe this defendant perpetrated this crime. Guilt or innocence is not determined. If the judge determines there is enough evidence to fulfill the requirement of both a & b, the judge will bind the case over (move the case) to circuit court in Mt. Clemens for further proceedings.
Operating Under Influence of Liquor (OUIL)
First and second offences are adjudicated in a district court. Defendants who are determined guilty of alcohol related offenses are interviewed by a certified alcohol screening agent. The screening report is reviewed by the judge before he imposes sentence. Sentencing penalties can be fines and costs, incarceration (jail), vehicle immobilization, driver intervention program, alcohol rehab programs, counseling or any combination of these.
Third offenses are felonies and are handled in district court through preliminary exam.
Court appointed attorneys are appointed by the court for defendants who cannot afford to hire representation on their own. Repayment to the County for court appointed counsel is expected part of the sentence/probation.