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Sanilac County Michigan is located on Michigan’s “thumb” and boasts 42 miles of Lake Huron shoreline. The County was named after a Huron Indian Chief by the same name. Sanilac County is relatively conservative politically and has a strong tendency to vote Republican. In criminal cases jurors therefore tend to be on the law-and-order side of things, making it a more challenging county in which to defend criminal cases.
Misdemeanor criminal charges in Sanilac County will be handled before the District Court judge in the 73A judicial District Court. The Court is located at: 60 West Sanilac, Room 302, Sandusky, MI 48471.
The prosecutor on the District Court case will depend on several factors, most directly, the prosecuting attorney’s office who wrote the warrant. Crimes typically handled in the 73A District Court include such common crimes as operating while intoxicated or DUI, domestic violence, many forms of assault and retail fraud. These cases usually begin with an arraignment, after which one or more pretrials will be scheduled. Most misdemeanor cases are resolved through plea negotiations. However, where the prosecutor is unwilling or unable to offer a charge reduction that is satisfactory to the accused, the case will proceed to either a bench (judge) trial or a jury trial.
Felony cases in Sanilac County will begin in the 73A District Court with an arraignment on the warrant. Next, a probable cause conference will be held, followed by either a voluntary “bind over” to the Circuit Court, or a preliminary examination. In those cases where the accused or the prosecutor elects to pursue a preliminary examination witnesses will be called and the District Court Judge will determine if enough evidence has been presented to prove, by a probable cause standard, that a crime has been committed and that the accused committed that crime. If such evidence exists, then the case will be sent to the Sanilac County Circuit Court.
The Sanilac County Circuit Court, also sometimes called the 4th Judicial Circuit Court, is in the same building as the Sanilac County District Court. The room of course is different, being 303 rather than 302, and the jurisdiction is different, because unlike the District Court, the Circuit Court has the power and authority over felony cases. A felony is a crime punishable by more than 1 year in jail, and because felonies are more serious than misdemeanors, they require a judge in a “higher” court to preside over them.
Examples of felony crimes that may take place in the Sanilac County Circuit Court include all felony drunk driving, such as OWI third offense, OWI causing serious injury and OWI causing death. Most criminal sexual conduct crimes prosecuted at the State level (as opposed to federal CSC cases) are felonies, including child pornography called at the state level child sexually abusive material (CSAM), many kinds of financial crimes, various gun and weapons charges and cases involving more serious forms of assault including those causing serious injury or death.
Once a felony case gets “bound over” from the District Court to the Circuit Court, there will another arraignment, called an arraignment on the information, then if a plea is not entered at the arraignment, one or more pretrials. If the case is not resolved through motions or plea negotiations, then the case will set for trial.
If you have been charged with a crime in Sanilac County, then please contact the Barone Defense Firm for your free case review. We have been appearing in Sanilac County since the early 2000s and can apply our many years of knowledge and experience to your case.