CRIMINAL JUSTICE TERMINOLOGY
Acquittal– Defendant is found “Not Guilty” after a jury trial.
Adjournment – A delay in the proceeding of a case, typically where a scheduled court hearing or trial must be rescheduled to another date and/or time.
District Court Arraignment – The first court hearing in a both misdemeanor and felony cases. At the District Court Arraignment, the Defendant is notified of the criminal charges he/she is facing, future district court dates are set and bond is established.
Bindover – In felony cases, a Bindover occurs when the District Court Judge determines that the Prosecuting Attorney has sufficient evidence to establish the Defendant’s guilt by a Probable Cause standard. The felony case then proceeds to Circuit Court for future hearings.
Bond – The amount of money that the Defendant must post to be released from jail while he/she awaits sentencing. While released, the Defendant must follow certain rules to continue his/her release.
Circuit Court – The court that handles all felony trials and sentencings.
Circuit Court Arraignment – The first court hearing in Circuit Court after a case is bound over from District Court. The Court schedules future hearings in Circuit Court. The Defendant usually waives his/her appearance at this hearing as it is administrative only.
Defendant – A person who is charged with a crime.
Dismissal – Charges dropped by order of the Judge.
District Court – Court which handles all misdemeanor cases, sentencings, traffic violations and the first hearings of felony cases.
Felony – A crime punishable by a maximum incarceration of more than one-year.
Misdemeanor – A crime punishable by a maximum incarceration of one-year or less.
Motion – A hearing scheduled by either the Defendant’s Attorney or the Prosecuting Attorney to address a legal issue before the Judge.
Parole – Supervision to a Defendant by the Michigan Department of Corrections after he/she has granted release from prison by the parole board.
Preliminary Examination – A hearing in felony cases held in the District Court to determine if the Prosecuting Attorney has sufficient evidence to establish the Defendant’s guilt by a Probable Cause standard. If the Prosecutor presents sufficient evidence that is called a bindover, and the felony proceeds to Circuit Court for future hearings.
Preliminary Hearing (Neglect & Abuse Cases) — In a child protective proceeding, the court must hold a preliminary hearing if the child has been taken into temporary custody or if a party has requested that the child be taken into custody. The court must two major decisions at a preliminary hearing: whether to authorize the petition and whether to order pretrial placement of the child. Alternatively, the court may order alleged abuser to leave the child’s home.
Presentence Investigation Report [PSI] – A report drafted by a probation officer and provided to the Judge before sentencing. The PSI Report gives a summary of the Defendant’s background, victim’s claims and incarceration recommendation.
Pretrials – A formal meeting between the Defense Attorney and Prosecutor to see if the case can be resolved without a jury trial.
Probation – Supervision ordered by a Judge after an individual is convicted of a crime.
Restitution – A court ordered sum of money to reimburse a crime victim for property loss or injuries resulting from the crime.
Subpoena – A legal order compelling a person to appear in Court to testify as a witness.
Warrant – A legal document issued by the Prosecuting Attorney and approved by a Judge allowing the police to arrest the accused.