Circuit Courts have exclusive jurisdiction of all felonies. Felonies are initiated with a complaint and warrant in the District Court. A defendant may have a preliminary examination to determine if there is probable cause to be tried in Circuit Court, or the exam may be waived. The defendant is then arraigned on felony information in Circuit Court, where the defendant may plead guilty or proceed to trial. Before the sentence of a defendant, the Department of Corrections is required to provide a written pre-sentence report to the court. Additional information on Michigan Courts including other courts of the State, court forms, court rules, and case code types can be seen at the official state website.
The Circuit Court has exclusive jurisdiction over cases claiming money damages over $25,000.00. Civil cases include all appeals from District Court and removal from District Court, civil damage suits which include personal injury, auto negligence, medical malpractice and other damage suits. Other civil matters include business claims, contract and general civil suits.
The Circuit Court is an Appeals Court for other agencies. Appeals come from administrative agencies such as worker compensation decisions, Secretary of State-driver license restoration cases, MESC and other state agencies. All District Court appeals are taken to Circuit Court as well as some Probate Court Appeals, Gun Board decisions and other Municipalities decisions.
In 1998 the Michigan Legislature mandated that all Circuit Courts develop a plan for a Family Division. The law moved the Juvenile Division of the Probate Court to the Family Division of the Circuit Court. The idea was to assure that a family involved in both the Probate and Circuit Court litigation (such as a divorce with minor children and a juvenile delinquency petition) had a single judge handling all matters. Family Division matters include divorces, paternity, nonsupport, child custody and parenting-time disputes, neglect and abuse petitions, adoptions, juvenile delinquencies, name changes, emancipation of minors, personal protection orders and other general family matters.