All felony cases occurring within Kent County, Michigan are held in the 17th Circuit Court located at 180 Ottawa Ave, Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you are charged with a felony, your case is going to be prosecuted by the Kent County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. William Forsythe is the elected Prosecuting Attorney for Kent County and the head of the Kent County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. However, he very rarely personally prosecutes any of the felony cases. Rather, the felony cases are actually tried by a one of the many Assistant Prosecuting Attorney’s that work in the office. Chris Becker is the First Chief Assistant and is generally the prosecuting attorney to which the other prosecuting attorney’s report and from whom they seek approval for all plea negotiations.
The 17th Circuit Court has 13 Circuit Court Judges in total. Seven of these judges handle adult felony matters. These judges are: Honorable Donald A. Johnston (Chief Judge), Honorable James R. Redford, Honorable George S. Buth, Honorable Dennis B. Leiber, Honorable Mark A. Trusock, Honorable Paul J. Sullivan, and Honorable Christopher P. Yates. Each of these judges has their own trial docket and sentencing philosophy. Accordingly, the speed at which your case proceeds, the manner in which your trial will be conducted, and the sentence you should expect will not only depend upon the specific circumstances of the offense for which you are charged, but the specific judge who is presiding over the matter.
The attorneys at Springstead and Bartish Law, PLLC are familiar with all of these judges and can provide you with an idea of how your case will proceed or the type of sentence you should expect if you are convicted of an offense.
If you are alleged to have committed an offense within the city limits of Grand Rapids, your case will be handled in the 61st District Court also located at 180 Ottawa Ave, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The 61st District Court is presided over by six District Court judges. The 61st District Court Judges are: Honorable Jeanine LaVille (Chief Judge), Honorable David Buter, Honorable Benjamin H. Logan, Honorable Donald A. Passenger, Honorable Kimberly A. Schaefer and Honorable Jennifer Faber.
The 61st District Court also handles all preliminary examinations for felony offenses that are alleged to have occurred within the city limits of Grand Rapids. Thus, if you are charged with such a felony offense, your case will begin in the 61st District Court until it is bound over to the 17th Circuit Court for final adjudication. If the Grand Rapids Police Department, the Michigan State Police, or the Kent County Sheriff’s Department arrested you, you may find that your first appearance will be in the 61st District Court.
The Kent County Sobriety Court is held only at the 61st District Court and is presided over by Judge Laville. Accordingly, if you are convicted of an Operating While Intoxicated Second Offense in any other court in Kent County and wish to participate in the Sobriety Court program, you need to get your case transferred to the 61st District Court for sentencing purposes.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor in the 61st District Court, your first court appearance will be the arraignment. The 61st District Court allows defendants who are represented by counsel to waive their arraignment provided that their attorney submits an appearance, signed waiver of arraignment form, and signed advice of rights form prior to the arraignment date. Thus, if you hire an attorney prior to your arraignment date in the 61st District Court, you will not personally have to attend this hearing.
Following your arraignment, the Court will schedule a pretrial conference approximately three to four weeks later. If you are charged with a city ordinance violation, your case will be handled by the Grand Rapids City Attorney’s Office. If you are charged with a violation of state law, your case will be handled by the Kent County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The pretrial conference is a scheduled conference between the assistant prosecuting attorney or city attorney handling your case and your defense counsel where both sides can talk about the facts of the case and potential resolutions. In general, if you hire an attorney, you do not have to show up for this conference as your attorney can handle it for you.
Following the pretrial conference, the court will schedule a settlement conference. This conference takes place in the courtroom and is attended by the assistant prosecuting attorney or city attorney, your defense counsel, and the judge. You will have to attend this conference. At the settlement conference, you have to make a decision whether to accept plea offer (if one has been made) or take the case to trial. If you elect to accept a plea offer, you will plead guilty at this hearing and may even be sentenced. If you elect to take the matter to trial, the court will schedule a jury selection date about three to four weeks later where you will pick a jury for your case and obtain a trial date. The actual jury trial will take place on this date which is normally three to four weeks later.
If you have no prior offenses and your offense did not result in any injuries to anybody other than yourself, misdemeanor sentences usually consist of fines and costs anywhere from $500.00 to $1500.00, 40 to 80 hours of community service, and a one to two-year term of probation. Jail is generally uncommon unless some aggravating factor exists. The judge will ask at sentencing whether or not you are able to pay your fines and costs at that time. If you cannot pay your fines and costs at that time, the court will set up a payment plan for you. The court generally expects you to make some payment towards your fines and costs at the time of your sentence, so you should generally bring some money with you. Any bond that was posted at the time of your arrest will also be applied against your fines and costs.
If this is your first offense and no one was injured as a result of your operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, jail is uncommon. You should expect to receive a sentence of fines and costs in the neighborhood of $1000.00 to $1500.00, one to two years of probation, and 40 to 80 hours of community service. If there was an accident, the court will also make you pay restitution. Before you are sentenced, you will have to meet with the 61st District Court probation department and obtain an alcohol assessment from a substance abuse counselor.
If this is your second operating while intoxicated offense (regardless of whether you are pleading to an operating while intoxicated first offense or second offense) and your prior OWI offense was within 10 years, you should expect a jail sentence of 10 to 20 days in addition to the aforementioned penalties. You may also eligible for sobriety court program. If you are eligible for sobriety court and you request it, the request is normally granted. If you are accepted into the 61st District Court sobriety program, Judge LaVille rather than the judge to which you were originally assigned will sentence you. Judge LaVille typically imposes a nine-day sentence for Sobriety Court sentences.
The Criminal Defense Lawyers at Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law are dedicated to the defense of the Greater Grand Rapids citizens accused of crimes. With offices in Grand Rapids and Fremont our sole focus is on the representation of clients charged with criminal offenses in county, state, and federal courts throughout West Michigan. If you or somebody you know, is facing criminal charges at Kent County Courthouse, call the top Grand Rapids criminal defense attorneys at Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law, located nearby, for a free consultation. Call now Fremont (231) 924-8700 or Grand Rapids (616) 458-5500.