In Michigan, a probable cause conference is a court hearing before the preliminary examination. Both are considered part of the due process rights. Therefore, you and your attorney will generally receive the initial date for your probable cause conference at your arraignment; attendance at the conference is mandatory.
When Are Probable Cause Conferences Required?
A probable cause conference will be required if you have been charged and arraigned for a felony unless both parties waive the conference.
An arraignment is the first time someone charged with a crime appears in court. An arraignment is the defendant’s opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the trial proceedings will continue, and a probable cause conference will be required. At the arraignment, both parties will be given a probable cause conference date. If either side needs more preparation time, the conference date can be rescheduled.
Waiver Of The Probable Cause Conference
The probable cause conference is generally mandatory under Michigan law unless the defense and prosecution both agree to waive the conference. To waive the probable cause conference, the parties must present a written document to the court indicating that the conference and/or preliminary examination have been waived. In some situations, this waiver may occur in court on the record, in which case a written document signed by both parties is unnecessary.
What Is The Purpose Of A Probable Cause Conference?
A probable cause conference aims to see if a full-blown trial is necessary. The court system attempts to reduce the number of extensive frivolous trials; typically, cases settle before trials. Several things can be discussed at the probable cause conference per Michigan law, including discussion of:
- Possible plea agreements;
- Bail or bond reduction;
- Release from jail with conditions;
- Stipulations and procedural aspects of the case;
- Any matter relevant to the case, as long as both parties agree to discuss the topic. This may include evidentiary issues, which call specific evidence into question concerning relevance, authenticity, and if someone is qualified to testify on behalf or against the defendant.
Where Is A Probable Cause Conference Held?
The court in which the case is being brought will hold the probable cause conference because they have what is known as jurisdiction. Under Michigan law, judges are not required to attend conferences, but they are available to take plea deals, consider requests for bond modifications, and, if requested, take the testimony of a victim.
When Is A Probable Cause Hearing Held?
Michigan law provides that the probable cause conference can be held between 7 to 14 days after the arraignment. This additional time allows individuals to prepare for the conference but also fulfills the defendant’s right to a speedy trial. However, in most situations, the probable cause conference is not held until well after the 14-day requirement because the conference cannot be held until discovery is complete.
Discovery is the process of obtaining all relevant information to the case by the defense and the prosecution. This includes depositions, interrogatories, requests for production, and physical examinations. Discovery can take a long time, depending on a case’s complexity. This is particularly true when a case requires many depositions. A deposition is a method used to question individuals associated with the crime or the suspect involved. It can also include interviewing any potential expert witnesses. Due to the number of scheduling conflicts that may result in having to question many people, it can take more than 14 days to complete the discovery.
As a result, the probable cause conference is often rescheduled at least once before it is actually held.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know is accused of a felony, there will likely be a probable cause conference unless it is waived. Obtaining a skilled criminal defense attorney can provide you with the advocacy you need. The attorneys at George Law have considerable criminal defense experience and will guide you throughout the process. They will aggressively represent your rights and interests throughout the criminal procedure, including the probable cause conference. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact George Law at (248) 470-4300 or online.