A plea agreement is a negotiated settlement of a criminal case where both sides give and take. In a criminal case, the defendant has Constitutional rights and the state has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on each and every element of each and every crime a defendant is charged with. Our criminal justice system would not function without plea bargaining. Plea bargaining allows the state to obtain a conviction and there is no trial. The Newaygo County District Court has one full time Judge, H. Kevin Drake. The Newaygo County Circuit Court also has one full time Judge Robert D. Springstead.
Plea agreements are reached for a variety of reasons. The reasons vary from case to case. In criminal sexual conduct cases many victims do not want to go through a public trial. Some cases have witness problem, for example, a witness may have left the area or may change their testimony to protect the defendant. Occasionally evidence is suppressed or even misplaced.
Perhaps the best reason for plea agreements is that in the majority of cases, the negotiated plea results in virtually the same sentence for the defendant that would be imposed if he or she were to be convicted of the original charge. Sentencing in felony cases depends in large on how the defendant scores on the Michigan sentencing guidelines. Sentencing the majority of felony cases is also “concurrent”. This means that if the defendant is sentenced on multiple felony charges, their sentence on each crime runs all together not one after another.
Also, a defendant who pleads guilty and gives up their right to trial also gives up their automatic right to appeal. They may only appeal if the Court of Appeals gives them permission to appeal. After a trial, a defendant has an automatic right to appeal. This is their opportunity to pick apart what happened at trial and allege many types of errors so they may get a new trial or get their conviction(s) reversed.
If you are listed in a criminal file as a victim or witness you may receive a subpoena for a scheduled Court Hearing. If you receive a subpoena you will notice that it states you need to call 231-689-7350 the night before the scheduled hearing after 5:00 pm to see if you are needed. There will be an answering machine that will list the cases that are/are not going for that day. You will need to listen for the Defendant’s name (the person who is charged with the crime). You will need to appear at the time listed on the subpoena and should bring the subpoena with you to court. You will need to turn the subpoena in to the court and they will send you a mileage reimbursement. If you have been served with a subpoena and fail to appear the Judge of the specified court may find you in contempt of court. Please be aware that a subpoena is not an invitation but is an order of the Court.
If you receive a summons for jury duty you will need to contact the number on the notice. Our office does not handle jury duty.