Differences between Circuit, District, Municipal Courts

Michigan Circuit Courts

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but usually handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.

Criminal cases heard by the Circuit Courts include felony criminal cases and lesser-included offenses and juvenile delinquency.

Civil cases heard by Circuit Courts include general civil cases with more than $25,000 in dispute, equity cases, appeals of administrative agency decisions, domestic relations and juvenile cases.

Each Circuit Court has a Family division that hears domestic relations and juvenile cases. Cases heard by the Family division include divorce, paternity, adoption, abuse prevention, child protection and juvenile delinquency.

Circuit Courts also have a Friend of the Court office that handles domestic relations cases that involve minor children.

Michigan District Courts

District Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by District Courts include misdemeanor criminal cases, preliminary hearings for felony criminal cases and most traffic violations.

Civil cases heard by District Courts include general civil cases with less than $25,000 in dispute and most landlord-tenant cases.

Each District Court has a Conciliation division that is available for most general civil cases involving claims for less than $3000, if the parties agree to use the simplified procedure of Small Claims Court.

Michigan Probate Courts

Probate Courts have limited jurisdiction over probate cases and some juvenile matters.

Cases heard by Probate Courts include the probate of wills, administration of estates, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, and the care and protection of people with mental illness or developmental delay.

Probate Courts may have jurisdiction over some juvenile delinquency cases.

Michigan Municipal Courts

Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by Municipal Courts include misdemeanor criminal cases, some traffic and ordinance violations, and preliminary hearings for felony criminal cases.

Municipal Courts handle some general civil cases with limited amounts of money in dispute, generally up to $3,000, but limits may vary by court. A Municipal Court may have a Conciliation division for certain types of small claims.

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