What is an Informal Hearing?
An informal hearing is a court proceeding held to decide whether you are responsible for the traffic offense in which you are charged. It is your opportunity to defend yourself, to ask questions, and to have witnesses testify in your favor. The testimony is under oath, but the hearing is much less formal than a trial.
How is the hearing different from a trial?
The Magistrate, rather than the District Judge, usually presides over the hearing. Neither party may be represented by an attorney. There is no jury and no court reporter. The Magistrate’s final decision will be based on preponderance, a 51 to 49 percent majority of the evidence, not on proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Intent is not a criteria whether an individual is responsible or not responsible. The Magistrate CANNOT reduce or waive points on teh violations for which you are charged.
How do I defend myself at the hearing?
You will testify on your own behalf, you may have witnesses testify on your behalf, and you may ask questions of the witnesses against you. It is expected, however, that any questioning will be concise and courteous. Keep in mind that the citing officer may also bring witnesses, so in general, remember that the hearing is your “day in court”, so come prepared.
What if the hearing date I receive does not work?
You are allowed one (1) adjournment from the original hearing date scheduled. The officer is also allowed this opportunity. NO ADJOURNMENTS WILL BE ALLOWED WITHIN SEVEN (7) DAYS OF THE SCHEDULED HEARING DATE.
- If you are found responsible (sentenced) at your informal hearing, be prepared to immediately pay all fines and costs in full. (Michigan Court Rule 1.110) The Court will accept cash, check, money order or credit cards (3.5% fee added for credit/debit card transactions).
- If you do not wish to proceed with your scheduled court hearing, all fines and costs must be paid at least 24 hours prior to your court date.