STEPS IN A CRIMINAL CASE - ADULT DEFENDANT

Steps in a Criminal Case Committed with Adult Defendant (age 17+)

Crime Committed / Police Notified
The Prosecuting Attorney's Office does not initiate criminal investigations.  All investigations are initiated by police.

Police Investigate
Investigation may include interviewing the victim, witnesses, suspects; collecting physical evidence; visiting, viewing, photographing, measuring crime scene; identifying suspects; and through line-ups as well as many other methods.

Police Make an Arrest (or Request a Warrant)
When a crime is committed in a police officer's presence --- or the officer has probable cause to believe that certain misdemeanors or any felony was committed that the officer did not see happen --- an officer may arrest a suspect on the spot without an arrest warrant. The officer will later submit a charging/warrant request to the Prosecuting Attorney, suggesting potential charges to be authorized.

Warrant/Charging Request Reviewed by Prosecuting Attorney
Most cases begin with a warrant request. This is generally the first time that the Prosecuting Attorney's office is involved in a case, unless a prosecutor reviewed a search warrant or visited the crime scene. At this stage, the Prosecutor determines whether a person should be charged with a crime and, if so, what the crime should be. The Prosecutor must thoroughly review all reports and records concerning the case, including witness statements. The Prosecutor also reviews the suspect's prior criminal or traffic record. Occasionally, the reviewing Prosecutor sends the case back to the police to conduct additional investigation.

Warrant Issued
The Prosecutor can issue a charge if he or she reasonably believes that probable cause exists that the suspect committed the offense. But, most reviewing Prosecutors apply a higher standard --- whether the charge can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial with the information known at that time.

Suspect Arrested (if not already in custody)
The delay between the crime date and the defendant's arrest on an authorized charge can take any length of time (e.g., if the defendant's whereabouts are unknown, or if the defendant has left the State of Michigan).

Arraignment
This is the first court appearance for any misdemeanor or felony. Once arrested and charged with a felony, the suspect appears in District Court for arraignment. The defendant is told what the charge(s) is (are) and the maximum penalty if convicted, and is advised of his constitutional rights to a jury or bench trial, appointed attorney, presumption of innocence, etc. The charging document is called a Complaint. The conditions and amount of bond are determined by the judge. In some cases --- generally based on the nature of the charge --- the Judge imposes conditions on the bond, such as no contact with the victim. Bond is set in almost every case, but it is up to the defendant's own resources to post the bail money, which allows him to be released.

All further pre-trial procedures are determined by whether the defendant is charged with a felony or misdemeanor.  At a misdemeanor arraignment, the defendant will be given a chance to enter a plea to the charge: plead guilty, plead not guilty, or stand mute (i.e., remain silent, which is treated by the court as if the defendant pled not guilty). If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, the Judge may sentence the defendant on the spot or may reschedule the case for a sentencing date, which will give the probation department time to prepare a pre-sentence report including background information about the defendant and the crime, make a sentencing recommendation, etc. If the defendant stands mute or pleads not guilty, the case will be scheduled for a pre-trial conference.

At a felony arraignment in District Court, the defendant does not plead guilty or not guilty. He is advised of his right to a preliminary examination within 14 days of the arraignment. The arraigning judge may also consider a defendant's request for a court-appointed attorney at this time.

Pretrial Conference
All cases are scheduled for a meeting between the Prosecuting Attorney or Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, the defendant (or his attorney) and the magistrate to determine whether the case will go to trial or be resolved with a plea. These meetings focus on resolving the case short of trial. The Judge and witnesses are not directly involved in pre-trial conferences. If a plea bargain is going to be offered by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, it is done here.

Pretrial Proceedings
Many other events can occur prior to trial. Depending on the nature of the case, there may be pre-trial hearings on Constitutional issues (confessions, searches, identification, etc.). The issues are presented to the Court through written "motions" (e.g., Motion to Suppress Evidence, etc.). The judge must determine whether evidence will be admitted or suppressed at the defendant's trial, whether there is some legal reason why the defendant should not be tried, or decide other ground rules for trial.

Felony Preliminary Examination
This is a contested hearing before a District Court Judge, sometimes called a "probable cause hearing", held within 14 days after arraignment. The Prosecutor presents witnesses to convince the Judge that there is at least probable cause to believe that the charged crime(s) was (were) committed and that the defendant committed the crime(s). Because the burden of proof is much less than at a trial, the Prosecutor generally does not call all potential witnesses to testify at the "prelim"; generally, the victim and some eyewitnesses plus some of the police witnesses testify.

The defendant, through his attorney, can cross-examine the witnesses and present his own evidence (including witnesses). If probable cause is established, the defendant is "bound over" (i.e., sent to) Circuit Court for trial. If the Judge decides that there is not probable cause that the defendant committed the charged crime(s), the judge can bind the case over on different charges, can reduce the charges to misdemeanors for trial in District Court, or can dismiss charges. A defendant can give up his right to a Preliminary Examination. Most felonies arrive in Circuit Court after such a "waiver".

Circuit Court Arraignment
After the case is sent to Circuit Court, the defendant is again arraigned (given formal notice of the charges against him or her). The charging document is called an Information. He or she is again advised of his/her constitutional rights, and enters a plea to the charge (guilty, not guilty or stand mute).

Pre-Trial Conference
The Circuit Court may schedule a meeting between the Prosecuting Attorney or Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and the defendant's attorney to determine whether the case will go to trial or be resolved with a plea.

Pretrial Proceedings
The Circuit Court Judge may be called upon to resolve various pre-trial issues, some of which determine whether evidence will be admissible at trial, whether the case will continue to a trial, be resolved with a plea, or be dismissed or other preliminary issues.

Trial (Jury or Bench/Judge)
A trial is an adversary proceeding in which the Prosecutor must present evidence to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is not required to prove his or her innocence or to present any evidence, but may challenge the accuracy of the Prosecutor's evidence.

Both the defendant and the Prosecutor (representing the People of the State of Michigan) have the right to a trial by a jury. Sometimes, both sides agree to let a Judge listen to the evidence and decide the case without a jury; this is called a "bench trial". In a jury trial, the jury is the "trier of fact"; in a bench trial, the judge is. After the evidence is presented, the judge or a jury will determine whether the evidence proved that the defendant committed the crime.

Here is a general outline of the steps in a jury trial:

  •  residents of the local county are randomly selected from a Secretary of State list of licensed drivers, and are summoned to the Court as potential jurors;
  • a blind draw selects twelve people from that group in felonies (six in District Court misdemeanors);
  •  the Judge, Prosecutor and defense attorney question the jurors about their backgrounds and beliefs (the process is called voir dire);
  • the attorneys are permitted a limited number of "peremptory" challenges to various jurors (or an unlimited number of challenges for good cause);
  • after twelve (or six) acceptable jurors remain, the Judge administers an oath to the jury and reads basic instructions about the trial process, etc.;
  • the Prosecutor gives an opening statement to outline the People's case and evidence to the jury;
  • the defense may give a similar opening statement, or wait until later in the trial;
  • the Prosecutor calls witnesses, which the defense may cross examine;
  • the People close their proofs;
  • the defense may call witnesses, if it wants, and the Prosecutor may cross-examine them;
  • the defense rests;
  • the Prosecutor may present "rebuttal" witnesses/evidence to challenge evidence presented by the defendant during his proofs;
  • the Prosecutor rests;
  • occasionally, the trial judge will let the defense present "sur-rebuttal" witnesses to respond to the Prosecutor's rebuttal witnesses' testimony;
  • the Prosecutor presents a closing summary to the jury;
  • the defense attorney presents a closing summary to the jury;
  • the Prosecutor may present a rebuttal argument to the jury to respond to the defendant's attorney's closing summary;
  • the judge gives the jury detailed legal instructions about the charged crimes, the deliberation process, etc.;
  • the jury deliberates and returns a verdict.

A criminal case jury verdict must be unanimous.

Pre-Sentence Investigation and Report
If the defendant is found guilty (convicted), the court's probation department prepares a report for the judge summarizing the crime, and the defendant's personal and criminal backgrounds.

Generally, the victim is contacted for a recommendation of sentence. The probation officer concludes the report with a recommended sentence.

Sentencing
Sentencing in Michigan varies with the crime and can be the most confusing part of the criminal process. Most often, sentences are at the judge's discretion.

The judge will consider the information in the pre-sentence report (subject to factual corrections by the parties), additional evidence offered by the parties, comments by the crime victim, and other information relevant to the judge's sentencing decision.

For felonies, the Circuit Court judge will consult "sentencing guidelines" which provide an advisory minimum sentencing range. The sentencing guidelines factor in aspects of the defendant's criminal conduct and his prior record, to determine the minimum jail/prison sentence.

The judge may consider different alternatives, such as a fine, probation, community service, a sentence to jail or prison, or a combination. The judge must also order the defendant to make restitution to any victims who have suffered financial harm.

Appeals
Appeals from the District Court are heard in the Circuit Court. Appeals from a Circuit Court or Probate Court order are heard in the Michigan Court of Appeals. Appeals from Court of Appeals decisions are heard in the Michigan Supreme Court.

There are three kinds of appeals: (1) interlocutory, (2) of right, and (3) by leave.

Interlocutory appeal: occurs when a party tries to appeal a judge's decision before the case has come to trial or before a trial is finished.

Appeal of right: occurs after a final order has been entered by the trial court (either a sentencing order, or an order dismissing the charge). A recent amendment to the Michigan Constitution has eliminated most appeals of right when a defendant pleads guilty. Most appeals of right now focus on the sentence imposed.

Appeal by leave of the court: occurs when an appeal of right is not available (e.g., because an available appeal of right was not filed on time). The appellate court has the discretion to reject the appeal or can "grant leave".

If the appellate court grants leave to appeal, the defendant and Prosecutor file briefs that summarize the case facts, frame the legal issues to be decided, and present persuasive written arguments (supported by constitutional, statutory or prior case decision authority). Either party can request that the case be scheduled before the appellate court judges for oral argument. The appellate court will eventually issue a written opinion (or several opinions, if the justices disagree).

Not all appellate opinions are "published" (i.e., printed in official "reporter" services, such as Michigan Reporter or Michigan Appellate Reporter). The legal analysis and conclusions in published opinions are given greater precedential authority than "unpublished" opinions.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
   
   

 

CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT

How does Michigan define child abuse and neglect?

The following definitions of child abuse and neglect are based on Michigan's Child Protection Law and are in the Child 
Protective Services Policy manual.  

Physical abuse
Physical abuse is a non-accidental injury to a child by the person responsible for the child's health and welfare. Physical abuse may include, but is not limited to, burning, beating, kicking, and punching. It is usually the easiest abuse to identify because of the physical evidence of bruises, burns, broken bones or other unexplained injuries. Internal injuries may not be readily apparent.

Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse encompasses several different types of inappropriate sexual behavior:

Sexual contact meaning any intentional touching that can be reasonably construed as being for the purposes of 
sexual arousal, gratification, or any other improper purpose.

Sexual penetration.

Accosting, soliciting, or enticing a child to commit, or attempt to commit, an act of sexual contact or penetration, including 
prostitution.

Maltreatment
Maltreatment is defined as the treatment of a child that involves cruelty or suffering that a reasonable person would recognize 
as excessive. Possible examples of maltreatment are:

A parent, who knowing that their child has a phobia or deep fear of closed places, utilizes locking the child in a closet as a means of punishment.

A parent who forces their child to eat dog food out of a dog bowl during dinner as a method of punishment and/or humiliation.

A parent who is found to be teaching their child how to be an accessory in their criminal activities, e.g., shop-lifting.

A parent who responds to their child's bed-wetting by subjecting them to public humiliation, such as hanging a sign on the child at school, which lets others know that the child has wet his or her bed.

Mental Injury
A psychological condition (diagnosed by a mental health practitioner) caused by physical or verbal acts, omissions, (including the denial of appropriate treatment), or maintaining an environment by the person responsible for the child's health and welfare which: renders the child chronically anxious, agitated, depressed, socially withdrawn, psychotic, or unreasonable fear that his or her life and/or safety or that of another family member is threatened, or chronically interferes with the child's ability to accomplish age appropriate milestones.

Neglect
Child neglect encompasses several areas:

Neglect - harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare by the person responsible for the child's health and welfare through failure to provide the child with food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of the child, excluding those situations solely attributable to poverty.

Failure to Protect - knowingly allowing another person to mistreat or abuse the child without taking appropriate measures to stop such mistreatment or abuse and prevent it from recurring when the person is able to do so and has, or should have had, knowledge of the mistreatment.Improper Supervision - placing the child in or failing to remove the child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child.

Abandonment - The person responsible for the child's health and welfare leaves a child with an agency, person, or other entity (DHS, hospital, mental health facility, etc.) unable or unwilling to assume responsibility for the child.

Medical Neglect - The failure to seek, obtain, or follow through with medical care for the child, with the failure resulting in or presenting substantial risk of death, disfigurement or bodily harm or with the failure resulting in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child.

 

 


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
   
   

 

Potential Indicators of Child Abuse and/or Neglect

Determining when to report suspected child abuse or neglect can be difficult. A bruise on a toddler's forehead may be the 
result of learning to walk or the result of abuse. When in doubt, contact the local DHS office for consultation.

Below are some of the commonly accepted physical and behavioral indicators of abuse and/or neglect. Please note that the 
physical and behavioral indicators listed are not the only indicators of child abuse and neglect and if present, do not always 
mean a child is being abused or neglected.
 

Physical Neglect - Physical Indicators 

  • Unattended medical needs.
  • Lack of supervision.
  • Regular signs of hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene.
  • Distended stomach, emaciated.
  • Significant weight change.

Physical Neglect - Behavioral Indicators 

  • Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness, falls asleep in class.
  • Steals/hoards food, begs from classmates.
  • Reports that no caretaker is at home.

Physical Abuse - Physical Indicators 

  • Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing), welts, loop marks.
  • Adult/human bite marks.
  • Bald spots or missing clumps of hair.
  • Unexplained burns/scalds.
  • Unexplained fractures, skin lacerations/punctures or abrasions.
  • Swollen lips/chipped teeth. 
  • Linear/parallel marks on cheeks and temple area. 
  • Crescent-shaped bruising. 
  • Puncture wounds. 
  • Bruising behind the ears. 

Physical Abuse - Behavioral Indicators 

  • Self-destructive/self-mutilation.
  • Withdrawn and/or aggressive-behavior extremes.
  • Uncomfortable/skittish with physical contact.
  • Arrives at school late or stays late as if afraid to be at home.
  • Chronic runaway (adolescents).
  • Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably.
  • Wears clothing inappropriate to weather, to cover body.
  • Lack of impulse control (e.g. inappropriate outbursts).

Sexual Abuse - Physical indicators 

  • Pain or itching in genital area.
  • Bruises or bleeding in genital area.
  • Sexually transmitted disease.
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections.
  • Extreme or sudden weight change.
  • Pregnancy under 12 years of age.

Sexual Abuse - Behavioral Indicators 

  • Withdrawal, chronic depression.
  • Sexual behaviors or references that are unusual for the child's age.
  • Seductive or promiscuous behavior.
  • Poor self-esteem, self-devaluation, lack of confidence.
  • Suicide attempts (especially adolescents).
  • Hysteria, lack of emotional control.
 

 

 

 

 

Procedure for Child Abuse and Neglect Cases
The Child Protective Services division of the Department of Human Services conducts investigations of suspected 
child abuse or neglect. An investigation may begin because a "mandatory reporter", such as a teacher or a doctor, 
suspects child abuse or neglect. An investigation may also begin with a call from a concerned friend or neighbor.

DHS will work with families in order to correct any failings in child care. Only the most serious cases go to court. This 
is the procedure for such cases:

A preliminary hearing is conducted within 24 hours if the child is removed from the home, excluding Sundays and 
holidays. At the preliminary hearing, the parents can ask for a court-appointed attorney if they do not have representation. 
Each parent will have their own attorney. At the hearing, the Petitioner (DHS), represented by the office of the prosecuting attorney, must prove by probable cause that the child was abused and/or neglected. The parents/respondents can waive 
this hearing if the desire.

Pre-trial: At a conference the court and the attorneys for the parties may consider any matters that will facilitate the 
fair and expeditious disposition of the action, including:

  • the simplification of the issues;
  • the amount of time necessary for discovery;
  • the necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;
  • the possibility of obtaining admissions of fact and of documents to avoid unnecessary proof;
  • the limitation of the number of expert witnesses;
  • the consolidation of actions for trial, the separation of issues, and the order of trial when some issues are to be tried by a jury and some by the court;
  • the possibility of settlement;
  • whether mediation or some other form of alternative dispute resolution would be appropriate for the case;
  • the identity of the witnesses to testify at trial;
  • the estimated length of trial;
  • whether all claims arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the action have been joined as required by subrule 2.203(A);
  • other matters that may aid in the disposition of the action.

Plea of Responsible:
The respondent may make a plea of admission or of no contest to the original petition or to an amended petition.

Before accepting a plea, the court must advise the respondent on the record or in a writing that is made a part of the file:

  • of the allegations in the petition;
  • of the right to an attorney, if respondent is without counsel;
  • that if the court accepts the plea the respondent will give up the rights to;
    • trial by a judge or trial by a jury,
    • have the petitioner prove the allegations in the petition by a preponderance of the evidence,
    • have witnesses against the respondent appear and testify under oath at the trial,
    • cross-examine witnesses,
    • have the court subpoena any witnesses the respondent believes could give testimony in the respondent's favor;
  • of the consequences of the plea including that the plea can later be used to terminate parental rights.

The plea must be knowingly, understandingly, and voluntarily made. At the plea, the Respondent provides facts to the 
court that establish a finding that the child comes within the jurisdiction of the court. The court will have jurisdiction if the 
child is under 18 years of age; is found within the county and:

  • Whose parent or other person legally responsible for the care and maintenance of the juvenile, when able to do so, neglects or refuses to provide proper or necessary support, education, medical, surgical, or other care necessary for his or her health or morals, who is subject to a substantial risk of harm to his or her mental well-being, who is abandoned by his or her parents, guardian, or other custodian, or who is without proper custody or guardianship. As used in this sub-subdivision:
    • "Education" means learning based on an organized educational program that is appropriate, given the age, intelligence, ability, and psychological limitations of a juvenile, in the subject areas of reading, spelling, mathematics, science, history, civics, writing, and English grammar.
    • "Without proper custody or guardianship" does not mean a parent has placed the juvenile with another person who is legally responsible for the care and maintenance of the juvenile and who is able to and does provide the juvenile with proper care and maintenance.
  • Whose home or environment, by reason of neglect, cruelty, drunkenness, criminality, or depravity on the part of a parent, guardian, nonparent adult, or other custodian, is an unfit place for the juvenile to live in.
  • Whose parent has substantially failed, without good cause, to comply with a limited guardianship placement plan described in section 5205 of the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.5205, regarding the juvenile.
  • Whose parent has substantially failed, without good cause, to comply with a court-structured plan described in section 5207 or 5209 of the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.5207 and 700.5209, regarding the juvenile.
  • If the juvenile has a guardian under the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.1101 to 700.8102, and the juvenile's parent meets both of the following criteria:
    • The parent, having the ability to support or assist in supporting the juvenile, has failed or neglected, without good cause, to provide regular and substantial support for the juvenile for 2 years or more before the filing of the petition or, if a support order has been entered, has failed to substantially comply with the order for 2 years or more before the filing of the petition.
    • The parent, having the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the juvenile, has regularly and substantially failed or neglected, without good cause, to do so for 2 years or more before the filing of the petition. MCL 712A.2(b).

A Respondent can plead no contest. 

Trials: If child was removed from the home, must commence as soon as possible, but no later than 63 days after the child was removed unless the trial is postponed. If child was not removed from the home, the trial must be held within 6 months after the filing of the petition unless adjourned for good cause.

At trial, the petitioner must prove that the facts alleged in the petition are true and that they rise to the level of legal neglect. If legal neglect is proved at trial, the court may adjudicate the matter by formally asserting its authority and making the child a temporary ward of the court.

The trial can be in front of a referee, a judge or a judge and jury. The jury is composed of six people. 

Standard of Proof: For jurisdiction, the standard of proof is always preponderance of the evidence. For termination, the standard of proof is always clear and convincing. The same evidence can establish both jurisdiction and termination.

Disposition: If jurisdiction is found by either plea or trial, the next step is the dispositional hearing. The disposition involves a determination of what action, if any, will be taken on behalf of the child. This hearing is held within 35 days after the trial or plea. (If good cause is shown, the dispositional hearing may be later.)

Review Hearings: The court may retain jurisdiction for many, many months after it has jurisdiction. The purpose of the review hearing is to see whether the parent has progressed with the parent-agency plan designed to reunite the family. If parental rights were terminated, the court wants to know about plans for the child's permanency (i.e., adoption or guardianship ).

The progress of the parent and child must be reviewed no later than 182 days from the date a petition is filed, and no later than every 91 days after that for the first year that the child is under the jurisdiction of the court. After the first year, the progress of the child must be reviewed no later than 182 days from each preceding review until case is dismissed.

Permanency Planning Hearing: The hearings must be held every twelve months from the date a child was removed from its home. The plan could be to reunite the child with his or her parent. On the other hand, if the parent has not improved and returning the child home would be harmful, the permanency plan could be changed to termination of parental rights.

Termination of Parental Rights: There is no right to a jury in a termination proceeding. Although a referee may hear a termination case, the parties have a right to a judge upon request.

The burden of proof is on the party seeking to terminate the parental rights of respondent. Proofs must be clear and convincing that one or more factual grounds exist under MCL 712A.19b(3) to terminate parental rights.

In the case of an Indian child, parental rights shall not be terminated unless there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that parental rights should be terminated because continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian will likely result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.

The factual grounds for termination are any one of the following:

  • The child has been deserted under any of the following circumstances:
    • The child's parent is unidentifiable, has deserted the child for 28 or more days, and has not sought custody of the child during that period. For the purposes of this section, a parent is unidentifiable if the parent's identity cannot be ascertained after reasonable efforts have been made to locate and identify the parent.
    • The child's parent has deserted the child for 91 or more days and has not sought custody of the child during that period.
    • The child's parent voluntarily surrendered the child to an emergency service provider under chapter XII and did not petition the court to regain custody within 28 days after surrendering the child.
  • The child or a sibling of the child has suffered physical injury or physical or sexual abuse under 1 or more of the following circumstances:
    • The parent's act caused the physical injury or physical or sexual abuse and the court finds that there is a reasonable likelihood that the child will suffer from injury or abuse in the foreseeable future if placed in the parent's home.
    • The parent who had the opportunity to prevent the physical injury or physical or sexual abuse failed to do so and the court finds that there is a reasonable likelihood that the child will suffer injury or abuse in the foreseeable future if placed in the parent's home.
    • A nonparent adult's act caused the physical injury or physical or sexual abuse and the court finds that there is a reasonable likelihood that the child will suffer from injury or abuse by the nonparent adult in the foreseeable future if placed in the parent's home.
  • The parent was a respondent in a proceeding brought under this chapter, 182 or more days have elapsed since the issuance of an initial dispositional order, and the court, by clear and convincing evidence, finds either of the following:
    • The conditions that led to the adjudication continue to exist and there is no reasonable likelihood that the conditions will be rectified within a reasonable time considering the child's age.
    • Other conditions exist that cause the child to come within the court's jurisdiction, the parent has received recommendations to rectify those conditions, the conditions have not been rectified by the parent after the parent has received notice and a hearing and has been given a reasonable opportunity to rectify the conditions, and there is no reasonable likelihood that the conditions will be rectified within a reasonable time considering the child's age.
  • The child's parent has placed the child in a limited guardianship under section 5205 of the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.5205, and has substantially failed, without good cause, to comply with a limited guardianship placement plan described in section 5205 of the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.5205, regarding the child to the extent that the noncompliance has resulted in a disruption of the parent-child relationship.
  • The child has a guardian under the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.1101 to 700.8102, and the parent has substantially failed, without good cause, to comply with a court-structured plan described in section 5207 or 5209 of the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.5207 and 700.5209, regarding the child to the extent that the noncompliance has resulted in a disruption of the parent-child relationship.
  • The child has a guardian under the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.1101 to 700.8102, and both of the following have occurred:
    • The parent, having the ability to support or assist in supporting the minor, has failed or neglected, without good cause, to provide regular and substantial support for the minor for a period of 2 years or more before the filing of the petition or, if a support order has been entered, has failed to substantially comply with the order for a period of 2 years or more before the filing of the petition.
    • The parent, having the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the minor, has regularly and substantially failed or neglected, without good cause, to do so for a period of 2 years or more before the filing of the petition.
  • The parent, without regard to intent, fails to provide proper care or custody for the child and there is no reasonable expectation that the parent will be able to provide proper care and custody within a reasonable time considering the child's age.
  • The parent is imprisoned for such a period that the child will be deprived of a normal home for a period exceeding 2 years, and the parent has not provided for the child's proper care and custody, and there is no reasonable expectation that the parent will be able to provide proper care and custody within a reasonable time considering the child's age.
  • Parental rights to 1 or more siblings of the child have been terminated due to serious and chronic neglect or physical or sexual abuse, and prior attempts to rehabilitate the parents have been unsuccessful.
  • There is a reasonable likelihood, based on the conduct or capacity of the child's parent, that the child will be harmed if he or she is returned to the home of the parent.
  • The parent abused the child or a sibling of the child and the abuse included 1 or more of the following:
    • Abandonment of a young child.
    • Criminal sexual conduct involving penetration, attempted penetration, or assault with intent to penetrate.
    • Battering, torture, or other severe physical abuse.
    • Loss or serious impairment of an organ or limb.
    • Life threatening injury.
    • Murder or attempted murder.
    • Voluntary manslaughter.
    • Aiding and abetting, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or soliciting murder or voluntary manslaughter.
  • The parent's rights to another child were terminated as a result of proceedings under section 2(b) of this chapter or a similar law of another state.
  • The parent's rights to another child were voluntarily terminated following the initiation of proceedings under section 2(b) of this chapter or a similar law of another state.
  • The parent is convicted of 1 or more of the following, and the court determines that termination is in the child's best interests because continuing the parent-child relationship with the parent would be harmful to the child:
    • A violation of First or Second Degree Murder; First-, Second-, Third-, or Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct or Assault with Intent to Commit Criminal Sexual Conduct.
    • A violation of a criminal statute that includes as an element the use of force or the threat of force and the parent to will can be sentenced as a habitual offender. (A habitual offender has prior felony convictions and may be sentenced more severely that an offender without any prior convictions.)
    • A federal law or law of another state with provisions substantially similar to a crime or procedure listed or described in subparagraph (i) or (ii).

Best Interests of the Child: If the court finds that there are grounds for termination of parental rights and that termination of parental rights is in the child's best interests, the court shall order termination of parental rights and order that additional efforts for reunification of the child with the parent not be made.

The best interests of the child under the Child Custody Act are:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  • The moral fitness of the parties involved.
  • The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
  • The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
  • Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
  • Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute. MCL 722.23
 

 

 

 

             
 
 

 

JUVENILE DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS

Juvenile delinquency proceedings occur when juveniles under age 17 charged with a violation of a criminal law or ordinance, or 
with a status offense.  Delinquency proceedings occur within the Family Division of the 33rd Circuit Court, commonly referred to
as Probate Court.  

If the juvenile is found responsible for the offense, the court may order a juvenile disposition (similar to sentencing in adult
court), such as placing the juvenile on probation or committing the juvenile to the custody of the state, which would be called a P.A.150 commitment. 

 

STEPS IN THE JUVENILE COURT PROCESS
The Juvenile Court has several options on how it can proceed when a petition or complaint is filed. 

The Court may: 

1) deny authorization of the petition;

2) refer the matter to voluntary counseling under the Juvenile Diversion Act. These 
cases are handled without official action of the Court and no official record is made;

3) direct the matter for further informal inquiry;

4) place the matter on the consent calendar; or,

5) place the matter on the formal calendar.

 
WHAT HAPPENS AT A PRELIMINARY HEARING AT JUVENILE COURT?

If a petition is filed at the Juvenile Court the juvenile may be called to the Juvenile Court for a Preliminary Hearing. The 
Prosecution presents evidence from which the Judge or Juvenile Referee decides whether or not there is probable cause to 
believe that a crime has been committed by the juvenile. 

At this time, the juvenile has the very same rights as he/she would have if the police were questioning them, and in addition, the 
juvenile has the right to bring witnesses in to testify on their behalf, to confront and question those testifying against the juvenile. 
The Judge or Referee may require bail be posted as a condition of the juvenile's release or they may be ordered into detention 
pending trial.

If bond is required, both parents and the youth will be required to sign a bond form indicating understanding of the terms and 
what may happen if those terms are violated.



FORMAL COURT

As in adult court, a juvenile accused is presumed innocent of the charge unless they admit guilt or the Court or jury finds them
guilty. If the juveniles deny the charges they may request a trial before the attorney referee or a trial before the Judge either with 
or without a jury.

At trial the juvenile has the right to be represented by a lawyer, the right to remain silent, the right to ask questions of those who 
testify and the right to bring in witnesses to help prove their innocence; and the juvenile also has the right to testify or not to 
testify and not have their silence used against them.

All the parties will be introduced to the Court and the Petition will be read into the Court record. If the juvenile admits to the 
charges in the petition, or the Court or jury decides after the hearing that the allegations are true, the Court will take jurisdiction 
over the juvenile.

 
 

 

STATUS OFFENSES

Status offenses are a special category of illegal behaviors that apply only to juveniles and would not be considered illegal if done 
by an adult. The most common of these are:

School Truancy

Running Away from Home

Curfew Violations

Incorrigible

The Juvenile Court policy regarding status offenders is based on the philosophy that they are most effectively handled on a 
diversionary basis by a counseling agency other than the Court with all efforts directed at keeping the family intact. Juvenile 
Court's jurisdiction over status offenses will be exercised as a last resort after finding that all voluntary resources have been 
exhausted.

INFORMATION THAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW WHEN FILING A COMPLAINT FOR STATUS OFFENSES:

1)    The Court normally will not accept a petition unless:

a.      the child deserted his/her home without sufficient cause and the Court can find on the record that the child has been 
placed or refused alternative placement or the child and the child's parent, guardian, or custodian have exhausted or refused 
family counseling; or,

 b.      the child is repeatedly disobedient to the reasonable and lawful commands of his or her parents, guardian, or custodian 
and the Court can find on the record that by clear and convincing evidence that court-accessed services are necessary; or, 

c.      the child willingly and repeatedly absents himself or herself from school or other learning program intended to meet the 
child's educational needs, or repeatedly violates rules and regulations of the school or other learning program, and the Court 
can find on record that the child, the child's parent, guardian, or custodian, and school officials or learning program personnel 
have met on the child's educational problems, and educational counseling and alternative agency help have been sought. As 
used in this subparagraph only learning program means an organized educational program that is appropriate , given the age, 
intelligence, ability, and psychological limitations of a child, in the subject areas of reading, spelling, mathematics, science, 
history, civics, writing, and English grammar.

 2)       The Court normally will not authorize a petition for formal hearings on your child until:

a.      Reports from previous agencies who have worked with the parent and child are received; and 

b.      The reports indicate a sincere effort was made to resolve the problem.

3)          If a petition is authorized for a formal hearing:

a.      Parents will submit a financial statement with the Financial Clerk of the Juvenile Court. 

b.      Children will be assigned a court-appointed attorney as required by law. Parents are normally held responsible for all or a 
portion of the cost of the court-appointed attorney.

4)         If a child is removed from his/her home the cost or part of the cost for the child's care will be at the parent's expense.

5)        If the Court exercises jurisdiction over a child, it will require the juvenile and his/her family to follow a treatment plan that 
is designed to meet the best interests of the child. The Court is required by law to use the least restrictive placement available. 
The Court will consider continuing placement in the child's own home, private foster home, or relative's home prior to any 
institutional placement.

6)    A petition authorized for formal court proceedings will require a number of court hearings. The law requires the parents and 
child to appear at all court proceedings.

7)         All Court dispositions on status petitions will include both the child's and parent's participation in counseling, parent 
education, and/or psychological testing and other treatment efforts.