What type of hearings are used for traffic tickets?
The court uses an informal hearing to determine responsibility for a traffic offense violation.
How do I request a hearing?
In order to request a hearing, you may either contact the traffic clerk at (616) 455-2365 or fill out on online request.
What is an informal hearing?
An informal hearing is a court proceeding to determine responsibility for a traffic offense violation. At this hearing, you may defend yourself, ask questions, and have witnesses testify in your favor. Although, an informal hearing is not a trial, all testimony is under oath.
How is an informal hearing different from a trial?
A magistrate will preside over the hearing. There are no attorneys present. There is no jury. The hearing is not recorded. The magistrate’s decision will be based upon a preponderance of evidence standard. This simply means that it is more likely than not that violation did occur.
How do I defend myself at the hearing?
You may testify on your own behalf, have witnesses testify on your behalf, and ask questions of the witnesses against you. All questions must be concise, courteous, and not inflammatory or argumentative. You may also present any other documents or physical evidence that supports your case.
How do I get my witnesses to appear?
You may ask witnesses to come in voluntarily. However, if necessary, you may use the subpoena power of the court to obtain their attendance. Note: If you subpoena a witness, you will have to pay the requisite fees associated with subpoenaing the witness.
What are the possible outcomes of the hearing?
You may be found: not responsible, responsible, or responsible for a lesser infraction than charged.
What happens if the citing officer fails to appear?
If the officer fails to appear, then the case will be dismissed. This means that you are not responsible for the offense charged.
What happens if I fail to appear?
If you fail to appear, then the court will enter a default judgment against you. Simply, the court will automatically find you responsible for the infraction charged. The court will set fines and costs. The court will mail you a judgment notice requiring you to pay.
How much time to I have to pay after a default judgment?
If you do not pay the judgment within 28 days, the court will send you a 14-day notice. If you do not pay within 14 days of receiving the notice, your driver's license will be suspended by the Secretary of State and the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. Furthermore, you may be subject to additional fees.
What are the penalties if I am found responsible?
In addition to the citation fine, you will be responsible for court costs and the justice system fee. In addition, you may be subject to other fees under MCL 257.907 and 257.629e.
What about violation points?
The court does not put points on your license. The Secretary of State's office will assess the points on your license after it receives notice from the court of your responsibility of an offense. Note: The magistrate cannot adjust the number of points assessed against you.
Do I have the right to appeal?
Yes, you have the right to appeal for a formal hearing before the district judge. This formal hearing is de novo. Basically, the judge listens to all the evidence and makes a ruling. This ruling is independent of the informal hearing.
How do I appeal the decision made at an informal hearing?
Within 7 days of the judgment, you must complete an appeal form and file it with the court. In addition, you must post an appeal bond equal to the fine and costs imposed by the magistrate. However, you do not have to pay a filing fee for the appeal.
Can I appeal the judge's decision?
Yes, you may appeal to the circuit court. This proceeding will only look at conclusions of law and findings of fact. Basically, the circuit court judge will look at errors of law only.
What if I have further questions about informal hearings?
Please call the court at (616) 455-2365. Please remember the court cannot give you legal advice and it does not have any control over the points attributed to your license.