District Courts for State of Michigan Cases

District Courts in Michigan have jurisdiction over the following types of matters under state and local law:

1.   Arraignments and setting of bond for criminal misdemeanor and felony cases, the acceptance of bonds;

2.     Criminal misdemeanor cases in which the punishment does not exceed 1 year in the county jail;

3.     Criminal felony preliminary examination conferences and preliminary examinations.  A preliminary examination conference is a meeting to determine whether or not the Defendant wishes to exercise his or her right to a preliminary examination.  A preliminary examination is a hearing before a District Court Judge concerning felony allegations in which the District Court Judge must determine if there is probable cause to believe that a particular felony occurred within the jurisdiction of the District Court, and probable cause to believe that a particular Defendant committed that felony offense.  In order to determine probable cause the Court listens to the testimony of witnesses under oath and subject to direct and cross examination, reviews exhibits introduced during the preliminary examination, and listens to the arguments made by the Prosecution and Defense attorneys;

4.     The issuance of search warrants and arrest warrants;

5.     Ordinance and charter violations punishable by a fine or imprisonment in jail, or both;

6.     Nuisances and abatement of nuisances;

7.     Civil offenses or civil infractions, such as traffic tickets;

8.     Civil lawsuits in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $25,000;

9.     Small claims lawsuits;

10.  The performance of Marriages.  However, Circuit Court Judges can obtain permission to perform marriage ceremonies.

The District Court has the same power to issue warrants; subpoena witnesses; and require the production of books, papers, records, documents, and other evidence; and to punish for contempt of Court.  The District Court may provide for pleadings and motions; issue process and subpoenas; compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses; enter and set aside defaults and default judgments; allow amendments to pleadings, process, motions, and orders; order adjournments and continuances; appoint attorneys to represent indigent persons accused of misdemeanors or ordinance violations; make and enforce writs and orders; and do all other things necessary to hear and determine matters within the jurisdiction of the Court as provided by law.

Venue for criminal cases exists in the District Court that has jurisdiction over the particular city, township, village, or municipality in which the crime allegedly occurred.  For criminal offenses that allegedly occur on the border between two different jurisdictions, Prosecution in both is allowable subject to double jeopardy considerations.  If the criminal offense occurred in a motor vehicle, jurisdiction is proper wherever the vehicle passed in its journey.  For civil offenses, venue is proper where the civil infraction occurred.  Civil lawsuits generally are filed where the cause of action arose, but it is always wise to consult with an attorney as to where venue might be appropriate for a cause of action relating to you.

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