Criminal Law



This is the first court appearance for any misdemeanor or felony. The defendant will be given a chance to enter a plea to the charge: plead guilty, plead not guilty, or stand mute The defendant is told what the charge(s) is (are) and the maximum penalty if convicted, and is advised of his constitutional rights to a jury or bench trial, appointed attorney, presumption of innocence, and all trial rights The charging document is called a Complaint. The conditions and amount of bond are determined by the judge.

Misdemeanors Cases

Pretrial Conference - All misdemeanor cases are scheduled for a meeting between an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and the defendant (or his attorney) to determine whether the case will go to trial or be resolved with a plea. These meetings focus on resolving the case short of trial.

Felony Cases

The defendant has a right to a preliminary examination within 14 days of the arraignment.

Pre-Exam Conference - Some courts, including Saginaw County schedule a "Pre-Exam Conference" several days before the scheduled Preliminary Examination. The Pre-Exam Conference operates like a misdemeanor pre-trial conference, as a meeting between the Prosecutor and defendant (or his attorney) to see if the case can be resolved without the need to subpoena witnesses for the "Prelim".

Felony Preliminary Examination - This is a contested hearing before a District Court Judge held within 14 days after arraignment. The Prosecutor must present witnesses to prove that there is probable cause to believe that the charged crime(s) was (were) committed and that the defendant committed the crime(s). If probable cause is established, the defendant is "bound over" to Circuit Court for trial.

Circuit Court Arraignment - The defendant is arraigned at the Circuit Court level. The charging document is called an Information.

Pre-Trial Conference - The Circuit Court may schedule a meeting between an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and the defendant's attorney to determine whether the case will go to trial or be resolved with a plea, however this is determined on a judge by judge and County by County basis.

Trial (Jury or Bench/Judge)

A trial is an adversary proceeding in which the Prosecutor must present evidence to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is not required to prove his or her innocence or to present any evidence, but may challenge the accuracy of the Prosecutor's evidence.

Both the defendant and the Prosecutor (representing the People of the State of Michigan) have the right to a trial by a jury. In a jury trial, the jury is the "trier of fact"; in a bench trial, the judge is. After the evidence is presented, the judge or a jury will determine whether the evidence proved that the defendant committed the crime.


Sentences are at the judge's discretion. The judge will consider the information in the pre-sentence report, additional evidence offered by the parties, comments by the crime victim, and other information relevant to the judge's sentencing decision. The Circuit Court judge consults "sentencing guidelines" in determining the sentence.


Appeals from the District Court are heard in the Circuit Court. Appeals from a Circuit Court or Probate Court order are heard in the Michigan Court of Appeals. Appeals from Court of Appeals decisions are heard in the Michigan Supreme Court.

Practice Areas

Contact Us

608 South Michigan Avenue
Saginaw, MI 48602

Ph: 989 799 4701
Fax: 989 799 8563