I feel that a crime has been committed. How do I press charges? Can I report directly to the Prosecutor's Office?
Crimes are investigated by police, not the Prosecutor. Crimes should be reported to the police department or other law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction where the crime occurred. For example, crimes occurring inside the City of Greenville should be reported to the Greenville Department of Public Safety. Likewise, crimes occurring in boundaries of Carson City, Home Township, Lakeview, and Stanton should be reported to the municipal policy departments. If the crime was committed elsewhere inside Montcalm County, or in an area where the Montcalm County Sheriff is the contracting law enforcement agency (e.g., Howard City, Edmore, Eureka township, and Crystal township), the crime should be reported to the Sheriff. You may also contact the Michigan State Police Department.
Once the initial investigation has been completed, the police department's report is filed with the Prosecuting Attorney. The Prosecutor reviewing the warrant request may send the case back to the police for further investigation. Ultimately, the reviewing Prosecutor decides what charge(s), if any, will be issued and when the charge(s) should be issued.
How do I press counter-charges against someone?
This request generally arises from assaults, Regardless of whether you have already been charged, if you believe that a crime has been committed against you, go to the appropriate police department to file a complaint and request an investigation. Your case will be reviewed on its own merits.
I am a victim. Can I drop the charge(s)?
Many people incorrectly believe that a victim has the power to "press charges" against the abuser, or to later "drop the charges."
All crimes are offenses against the community, not just the individual victim. Criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the State of Michigan, not the individual who called the police or the person who may have been personally harmed by the defendant's conduct. ONLY the Prosecuting Attorney can issue or dismiss charges. This is important because it takes the responsibility for prosecuting the abuser off the victim's shoulders and puts it on the Prosecuting Attorney's, where it legally belongs. It also means that the defendant cannot "pressure" the victim into dropping the charges.
Although the decision whether to prosecute or not is ultimately up to the Prosecuting Attorney, the victim's opinion is important and the Prosecuting Attorney will take those wishes into account when making decisions about the case. A variety of factors are taken into account when deciding whether to honor a complainant's request not to proceed with prosecution, including the nature and extent of the defendant's prior criminal history, the severity of the alleged crime, whether the defendant has other pending charges in the criminal justice system, and future danger to the community (including the current victim).
On Domestic Violence cases our office does require a Safety Plan to be completed with R.A.V.E. (Relief After Violent Encounter) before the victim is allowed to fill out a form to request charges be dropped. They must contact Melissa Campbell - R.A.V.E. at (616) 527-3351, ext. 226, Office hours are: 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Can you tell me if a charge has been issued of if an arrest warrant exists?
The Prosecuting Attorney's office only authorizes a criminal complaint; the court authorizes an arrest warrant, and the policy department that investigates the case has the responsibility to find and arrest the defendant. The Prosecuting Attorney's office may not know if an arrest warrant is still outstanding, because that information is known by the police and the court. The defendant (or anyone asking about whether a warrant is still open) must contact the police agency handling the case. If the Prosecuting Attorney's office told a defendant that an arrest warrant was outstanding, the defendant might flee.
How do I get my property back?
If your property was stolen and recovered by the police, it can sometimes be returned to you before the case is done; if the items are important pieces of evidence, in most cases we will need to keep the property secured in police custody. Ultimately, the decision whether evidence is release must be made by one of our office's attorneys.
Where do I get court forms?
Most court actions require a specific form to be filed with the court. Some forms are "local forms", and were created for use in one court. Other forms are used state-wide. You may be able to get a copy of a court form you need by contacting the court clerk.
If you are not sure which forms you need, a book of court forms may be available in the library nearest you. After you know which court forms you need, you can make copies or write down the form numbers and contact commercial forms printer for copies. Forms developed by the State Court Administrative Office should be photocopied, because most are not available from a printer.
Most of the SCAO Approved forms are also available as a PDF (portable document format) and can be filled in online and then printed.
REMEMBER: Court forms are only tools to assist in processing of a court case. The forms do not guide you through the court process. If you do not have an attorney, you will need to understand the laws pertaining to your type of case.
How do I get a copy of a police report?
If you are a defendant in a criminal or juvenile case, and you have an attorney, he or she will obtain a copy of the police report for you from our office; you can get a personal copy from your attorney.
If you are a defendant and do not have an attorney --- or are just an interested citizen --- you can obtain a copy of a police report after the case as been completed from the police agency under the Freedom of Information Act.
If you are a defendant of a misdemeanor and do not have an attorney, you may bring your driver's license or state identification card and fill out a form to receive a copy of your police report. Please be aware that it will be your responsibility to give a copy to your attorney shall you decide to retain or request a court-appointed attorney after receiving your police report.
Victim request for police reports are handled on a case-by-case basis. The Prosecuting Attorney assigned to the case has the ultimate decision on whether it will be provided.
How do I get a copy of a person's criminal record?
Many Prosecuting Attorney offices have direct access to computer networks with information about peoples criminal histories. However, the privilege to access that information is limited. One limitation is that we can only search for criminal histories when they are directly related to a law-enforcement need, such as an on-going criminal prosecution. Another is that we cannot give the public copes of criminal history information we uncover because doing so would violate LEIN rules.
However, the Michigan State Police operates the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT), from which anyone can search the official MSP criminal history record database for $10.00 per search, using MasterCard or Visa. (Non-profit, charitable organizations may qualify for free ICHAT searches if criminal history checks are needed on people who work with children or the frail elderly.) For each search, you need the person's full name, sex, race, and date of birth.
ICHAT's criminal history database covers only Michigan convictions, and is updated daily with felony and misdemeanor conviction information provided by law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys and courts throughout the State. Your search includes arrests where a person has been convicted in a court, and where the conviction has been added to that person's criminal history record. It does not include arrests without conviction, outstanding warrants, federal arrests or arrests from other states.
A search for a criminal record from another state requires you to correspond directly with the criminal record repository of that state.
How can I get help if a defendant is not paying court-ordered restitution?
If the defendant is still on probation you will need to contact the probation department for District Court at (989) 831-7434, Circuit Court at (989) 831-7353, or Juvenile Court at (989) 831-7308 -- and ask for the probation officer who is assigned to the case. The probation officer can help you get your money if restitution was a condition of the defendant's probation and if the defendant is still on probation.
If the defendant is no longer on probation and your restitution has not been paid in full, see a private lawyer. A criminal case restitution order is a court order the expires only when the restitution has been paid in full. If the court-ordered restitution covers all of your claims, then you do not have to separately sue the defendant. You can enforce the criminal's case's restitution order like any civil judgment. The Clerk's Office for the court that the defendant was sentenced in may be able to help you or may already be attempting to enforce that order. District Court (989) 831-7450, Circuit Court (989) 831-3520, and Juvenile Court (989) 831-7308.
I was a victim of a violent crime. How can the Prosecuting Attorney help me with my medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc?
You will receive a Victim's Rights packet once charges are authorized. Please fill them out so that our office can keep you aware of all court dates and help you apply help from Michigan Crime Victim's Compensation Fund for any un-reimbursed medical expenses or loss of income. With regard to compensation for pain and suffering, you may need to contact a private attorney.
Can the Prosecuting Attorney help me if I have been cheated by a contractor, shopkeeper or other person who provides labor or services?
The Michigan Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division -- toll-free at (877) 765-8388, or locally at (517) 373-1140 --- may be able to help. They may also be able to refer you to an agency that can help you.
I have been subpoenaed to appear as a witness in a criminal case. Can I get witness fees? What if I can't attend on the date stated on the subpoena?
Whether a witness receives any witness fee is within the discretion of the court. A court can order that you receive witness fees ($6.00 for 1/2 day or $12.00 for a full day), plus mileage ($.10 per mile, round trip). If you have a date conflict you should contact our office to speak to one of the Victim/Witness Advocates (989) 831-7326 immediately to discuss your conflict.
Can I talk to Andrea Krause? I think she's the person who is working on my case since her name appears on my court documents.
Andrea Krause is the elected Montcalm County Prosecuting Attorney, so her name appears on most criminal court documents and our office correspondence. However, she may not be personally handling the case in court. Please call our office to talk with the Prosecutor handling your case, or to arrange a meeting. If you still have questions or concerns, you may request an appointment with Andrea Krause.
How do I get a court-appointed attorney?
The Prosecutor cannot help you get a court-appointed attorney. You must ask the judge handling your case (generally at your arraignment). The judge will decide whether you are "indigent" (i.e., cannot afford to hire a lawyer) based on your income, assets and financial obligations, as well as the seriousness of the charge. For many misdemeanor cases, the judge will let you conduct a pre-trial conference on your own; if the case is not resolved to your liking at that meeting, you can apply for a court-appointed attorney. A court-appointed attorney is not necessarily a "free" lawyer. The judge may still order you to repay the County for your attorney's bill.
I am a defendant and do not like the attorney who is representing me. Can I talk to a Prosecuting Attorney about my case?
No. All attorneys are governed by a State Bar of Michigan's Rules of Professional Conduct, which prevent them from speaking directly to anyone who is already represented by an attorney on the same matter. As long as you are represented by an attorney, we may speak only to your attorney. Any questions that you have about your case should be answered by your attorney. If you continued to be dissatisfied with your court-appointed attorney you will have to contact the judge assigned to your case.
Why are some cases plea bargained?
There are not enough prosecutors, judges, courtrooms, or trial days on the calendar to put all the thousands of cases every year in Montcalm County before a jury. For those defendants take to trial, or for those who plead guilty before a trial, there are not enough jail cells in the state to hold them. These practical demands, plus the defendant's speedy trial rights, the seriousness of the cases, the strengths or weaknesses of cases, the victim's wishes, public safety, punishment, rehabilitation, and deterrence are all interests that are considered by the Prosecutor when deciding how to proceed. A plea agreement is always designed to balance these competing interests. Most cases are resolved in a relatively short time by the defendant's please -- many times a plea to the charged offense.
I want a divorce and need help getting child support. Can the Prosecutor's office help me?
The Prosecutor's office cannot provide legal advice or take legal action in your divorce. You should consult with a private lawyer. We can help you obtain a child support order, but the Friend of the Court is responsible for enforcing the order. For more information, see our Family Support Division page, or contact Amy Johnson, Family Support Specialist at (989) 831-7366.
What if I have a question which is not answered in your FAQ's?
Call or visit our office. Please be aware that our office cannot give legal advice on private legal issues.
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