Articles Tagged with probable cause determination

In Michigan, A Defendant who is charged with a felony or a high court misdemeanor (an offense that carries a maximum sentence of greater than 1 year) has a right to a preliminary examination. A preliminary examination is a hearing in front of a District Court Judge to determine if there is probable cause to believe that a crime occurred within the jurisdiction of the District Court, and probable cause to believe that the Defendant committed that offense. It is not a finding of guilt or innocense, it is a finding of sufficiency. The Judge considers whether or not there enough evidence to create a question of fact where the matter can be considered at the Circuit Court (the trial court level).
The Defendant and the Prosecution both have the option to hold or waive the preliminary examination. The waiver of the preliminary examination can occur at the probable cause conference, which is the first court hearing after the arraignment.  If either the Defendant or Prosecution elects to hold the preliminary examination, the same occurs within 14 days of the Defendant’s arraignment on the charge or charges which brought him/her before the Court. This 14 day rule can be waived if the Court makes a determination that there is good cause to waive this time period.
If the preliminary examination is held, the District Court Judge first listens to the testimony of Prosecution witnesses, and also reviews exhibits that are received by the Court. The Defense attorney has the opportunity to cross examine any witness called by the Prosecution. At the conclusion of the Prosecution’s case, the Defense is allowed to call witnesses and introduce exhibits. Witnesses can be subpoenaed for Court if necessary. The Defendant has the option to testify at the preliminary examination (which is never a good idea).  It is important to have great legal representation at the preliminary exam.
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