District Courts Section

The Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys (APAs) assigned to this section cover courtrooms in 36th District Court (31 district judges) and 26 other district and municipal courts (40 district judges). Every Monday through Friday, in 36th District Court the APAs cover 4 felony preliminary examination courtrooms, 1 misdemeanor arraignment courtroom, 1 misdemeanor jury trial courtroom and up to 15 courtrooms for state traffic cases.

The 26 other district courts require a state prosecutor (APA) 1 or 2 days a week. The APAs assigned to these courtrooms will handle felony preliminary examinations, misdemeanor bench and jury trials, and all state traffic cases. These APAs have offices in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice (main office) and the Dearborn Heights Police/Court Building (out-county office). These APAs also act as a liaison between the Prosecutor’s Office and the communities where they are assigned. Finally the Division Chief and the Principal Attorney for District Courts attend police and district court meetings to learn and address their needs and concerns.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS



What is an arraignment?

On all misdemeanor and felony cases, a defendant is brought before a District or Municipal Court judge or magistrate after an arrest by police, and a warrant is authorized by the prosecutor's office. At the arraignment, the judge or magistrate announces the charges to the defendant, notifies the defendant of his/her rights, sets the defendant's bond, and sets a preliminary examination date.

What is a preliminary examination?
A preliminary examination is a hearing conducted by the District and Municipal Courts for all felony cases. At the hearing, the judge determines whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed, and that the defendant committed a crime. If the judge finds that the prosecution has established probable cause, then the case is bound over, or advanced, to the Third Circuit Court at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice located at 1441 St. Antoine in Detroit for further proceedings.

What actually happens at a preliminary examination?
The preliminary examination can either be held or waived. If the preliminary examination is held, the prosecution must present witnesses and evidence, and the judge must decide whether probable cause exists from the evidence presented. It's conducted like a trial, but only a limited number of witnesses are presented. If the preliminary examination is waived, the defendant is automatically bound over as charged to the Third Circuit Court.

If the defendant is bound over to the Third Circuit Court, does that mean that she/he is guilty of the crime?
No. It only means that the case is advanced to the Third Circuit Court. A final resolution of the case will occur in that court. All future proceedings on that case will occur at the Third Circuit Court once the case is bound over. Whether the preliminary examination is held or waived, the defendant still has a right to a trial at Circuit Court, and the preliminary examination does not constitute a finding of guilt or final adjudication of the case.

Can bond be reviewed by the judge at the preliminary examination?
Yes, both the prosecution and defendant can ask the judge to review bond. The judge can modify the amount or conditions of bond. It is very important for victims to let the assistant prosecuting attorney know of any harassment or problems with the defendant since the start of the case.

Why do victims and witnesses need to appear at the preliminary examination?
Witnesses and victims are required to appear in case either the prosecution or defendant requests to hold the preliminary examination. Also, victims, while at the preliminary examination, will speak with a victim advocate and an assistant prosecuting attorney about the case and to have questions answered.

What is a pretrial conference on a misdemeanor case?
It is conference where the prosecution and defendant meet to determine whether the case can be resolved with a plea agreement. The parties may also meet with the judge about sentencing, and bond can be reviewed at that time. Victims are needed to appear at this conference so they can be consulted about the resolution of the case, and notified of any actions taken at the conference. If the case cannot be resolved, then the court will set a trial date, and the parties may discuss trial witnesses and evidence at that time. Victims and witnesses will then be required to appear for trial at a date set by the court.

How can a find out if a defendant has been released on bond?
The Wayne County Sheriff' Department will know who is incarcerated at the Wayne County Jail. You can contact the Wayne County Jail at 313-224-0783 to see if the defendant is still incarcerated.

Kym L. Worthy
Wayne County Prosecutor
(313) 224 - 5777

Screening & District Courts

Gary Bresnehan
Chief
(313) 224-2897
Screening & District Courts Sections

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