Washtenaw County Circuit Court in Michigan

The 22nd Circuit Court serves 28 cities, townships, and villages. The Court has jurisdiction over felony cases, civil lawsuits, Personal Protection Orders, family law matters, probate, child abuse, neglect, and delinquency cases.

What You Need to Know About the Washtenaw County Circuit Court

The Washtenaw County Circuit Court is located at 101 E. Huron Street, P.O. Box 8645, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8645. The Court’s phone number is 734-222-3270. Seven full-time judges preside over various legal matters, including felony criminal cases, civil lawsuits, PPOs, divorce and other family law matters, probate, child abuse, neglect, and delinquency.

In addition to the Court’s trial-level work, the Circuit Court also has jurisdiction over district court appeals and appeals from administrative agencies, such as the Michigan Department of State’s Drivers Assessment and Appeal Division. The district courts within the circuit court’s jurisdiction include the 14A, 14B, and 15th District Courts.

Felony Charges

Criminal acts classified as felonies carry a maximum jail or prison sentence of more than a year. The county prosecutor authorizes these charges. The prosecutor files the charges at the court services office housed in the Washtenaw County Service Center. Felony preliminary exams occur at the Service Center, while bound over felony cases transfer to the Circuit Court in downtown Ann Arbor. Although felony matters originate in district court, they are eventually sent to the Circuit Court if the defense lawyer cannot negotiate a district court settlement or persuade the judge or prosecutor to dismiss charges.

Bail Bond Information

Most criminal defendants are free on bail or bond pending the conclusion of their cases. The various bond types include:

Because all felony matters originate in the district courts, the defendant, or someone on their behalf, posts bond or bail before the case gets to the Washtenaw County Circuit Court. There are limited circumstances when a circuit court judge sets bail or bond, such as when a defendant fails to appear for a scheduled court hearing or a bond or probation violation. If the bond is in the defendant’s name, the Court deducts court costs, fees, and restitution from the deposited funds at the end of the case and returns the balance. If the bond is in the name of a third party, the Court returns it to that person following a dismissal of the charges or sentencing. If the defendant posts a 10% bond, the Court returns only 90% of the amount deposited with the court or jail for bail.

What can be done if the defendant’s bond is too high to post? A skilled defense attorney can file a Motion for Reduction in Bond or a Motion to Modify Bond. In most cases, there is no reason a defendant should remain in custody. A compelling argument can persuade a judge to lower a defendant’s bond to an affordable amount.

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Court-Appointed Attorneys vs. Retained Defense Attorneys

The judge will appoint counsel for indigent or partially indigent defendants in criminal proceedings. At their initial court appearance, people who have been detained and charged with a crime have the chance to request court-appointed legal representation. To be eligible for court-assigned counsel, a person must meet basic qualifications. At the conclusion of their case, defendants must pay back the costs of court-appointed counsel.

Most court-appointed attorneys provide basic-level protection of their client’s rights. Unfortunately, the defendant cannot choose their appointed attorney or switch if they are dissatisfied with their representation. The only way to have a choice of the best Washtenaw County criminal defense attorney for any particular defendant is to hire privately retained defense counsel. A top retained defense lawyer ensures excellent communication, proactive strategy, sufficient resources, experience, a specialized practice, and the ultimate level of protection. Defendants seeking the highest possible level of defense can hire a criminal defense law firm where they benefit from a team of attorneys collaborating to assist them.

Washtenaw County Probation Department

The probation department in Washtenaw County is responsible for overseeing the supervision of defendants placed on probation. Additionally, probation officers conduct presentence interviews with convicted defendants before sentencing hearings. The probation department’s office is on the lower level of the downtown courthouse building, room B-25. If a defendant violates the terms or conditions of their probation, a probation officer files a Probation Violation Petition with the sentencing judge. If convicted of a probation violation in Washtenaw County, a defendant faces a jail or prison sentence up to the original offense’s maximum penalty. Incarceration is not mandatory for violation of probation, and the defendant is entitled to legal representation. A defense attorney can either seek an acquittal of the allegations or, if the defendant is guilty, a lenient, non-punitive sentence, such as a fine, continued probation, community service, etc.

Expungement in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court

Under Michigan law, someone can file a Motion to Set Aside Conviction, commonly known as an Expungement Motion, on up to three (3) felonies and unlimited misdemeanors. There are various limitations on expungement eligibility, such as capital offenses, multiple assaultive convictions, serious misdemeanors, repeat or severe OWI convictions, and more. To persuade a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to expunge a conviction, the defendant must prove (1) that they are rehabilitated and (2) that setting aside the conviction is in the public’s best interest. If the judge denies the motion, the defendant must wait three (3) years before trying again. Once judges deny expungement motions, getting them to change their minds can be nearly impossible. The best hope of success in the 22nd Circuit Court is to work with an experienced expungement attorney with a successful track record. A seasoned defense lawyer will know how to complete the necessary court documents, file an extraordinary brief supporting the motion, and know precisely what to say to give their client the best odds of success.

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Top Defense Attorneys Defending Clients in Washtenaw County District and Circuit Courts

The fearless Washtenaw County defense attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience successfully defending clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court and the various district courts. We offer the highest possible level of service, protection, and defense by utilizing a unique, highly effective team approach. Our Washtenaw County criminal defense attorneys join forces and collaborate on cases for the benefit of our clients. As judges and prosecutors know, when one of our attorneys walks into the courtroom, all of our collective reputations, skill, and effort walk in as well. If there is a way to help you in Washtenaw County, and there always is, we will make it happen. Please call us for a free consultation so we can talk with you and help you determine your best options for legal representation.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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History of the Court

John Allen gave the state government free property for a courthouse within two weeks after he and Elisha Rumsey established Ann Arbor in 1824. Although the state recognized and chose Ann Arbor as the county seat, the location at the intersection of Huron and Main on the partners’ plan was an undeveloped wilderness. Allen thought he could sell the remaining 480 acres of his property for more money if he gave up a little portion in exchange for the county seat.

A decade later, John Bryan, a pioneer of Ypsilanti, paid $5,350 to construct the courthouse. It was a two-story brick structure with a brown paint job. The dome has a bell on top. The courthouse was located upstairs, and the attorneys rented the space downstairs. A pair of smaller one-story buildings, one housing the county clerk and the other the registrar of deeds, flanked the courthouse.

The courthouse and the surrounding square have always served as the hub of community activity in Ann Arbor. The upstairs courtroom was used for public events, while the grounds were used for larger groups. Residents in 1860 were alerted by the courthouse bell and heard a city official reading a telegram announcing that Fort Sumter had been fired upon from the courthouse steps.

The new building replaced the original courthouse in 1955.

Cities, Townships, and Villages Under the Jurisdiction of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court

The Cities, Townships, Villages, and Other Municipalities Under the Jurisdiction of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court:

  • City of Ann Arbor
  • City of Chelsea
  • City of Dexter
  • City of Milan
  • City of Saline
  • City of Ypsilanti
  • Village of Manchester
  • Barton Hills Village
  • Ann Arbor Township
  • Augusta Township
  • Bridgewater Township
  • Dexter Township
  • Freedom Township
  • Lima Township
  • Lodi Township
  • Lyndon Township
  • Manchester Township
  • Northfield Township
  • Pittsfield Township
  • Salem Township
  • Saline Township
  • Scio Township
  • Sharon Township
  • Superior Township
  • Sylvan Township
  • Webster Township
  • York Township
  • Ypsilanti Township

Common Washtenaw County Felony Charges

  • Violent Crimes
  • White Collar Crimes
  • Murder
  • Homicide
  • Manslaughter
  • Assault and Battery
  • Child Abuse
  • Stalking
  • Retail Fraud/Shoplifting
  • Sex Crimes
  • Rape (Criminal Sexual Conduct)
  • Child Molestation
  • Theft
  • Expungements
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Domestic Violence
  • Drug Crimes
  • Narcotics
  • Sales/Possession of Drugs
  • Spousal Abuse
  • DUI/OWI/Operating While Intoxicated Third Offense
  • Weapons Charge
  • And many more