When a person is charged with a felony offense in Washtenaw County or throughout Michigan, he or she often receives a court notice for a “Probable Cause Conference,” or PCC.While some appearances are obvious just by their titles (i.e., Trial, Sentencing, etc.), a PCC doesn’t immediately register with most people.What is a PCC and what should people expect to occur?
In 2014, the Michigan Legislature passed laws inserting a new step—the PCC--into the felony process.Before a defendant went directly from Arraignment to Preliminary Examination, which is a hearing at which the prosecuting attorney must prove “probable cause” (i.e., some evidence) of the defendant’s guilt.If the prosecutor is unable to produce this evidence, the judge/magistrate can dismiss the case. What the Michigan Legislature realized (due to intense lobbying by prosecutors and police) was that many cases were being dismissed because prosecutors often didn’t have enough time to get civilian witnesses to court. This was especially glaring because defendants had a statutory right to have their Examinations within 14 calendar days of their Arraignment.
As a result, Michigan added the intermediate PCC step. This is a “control date,” set before a Preliminary Examination (also called a Preliminary Hearing) is conducted.The statute governing PCCs, MCL 766.4, discusses the stated goals and purposes of the PCC as follows: (1) Plea Negotiations; (2) Bond/Bail Modifications; (3) Discovery requests; and (4) Address all other relevant issues related to the case. In practice, the PCC has been used to slow down the felony process, which gives both the prosecutor and defense attorney adequate time to prepare the case, make decisions, and determine the proper steps to take. It also cut down on the number of witnesses (police and civilian) who had to appear in court, as many felony cases are resolved at the PCC stage without the need for a hearing.
For clients who remain in custody at Arraignment, the PCC has been both a blessing and a curse. On the blessing front, it gives them an opportunity to address and modify bond sooner than they would have had before 2014. On the curse front, However, it often extends the time they sit in custody waiting for an actual hearing, and also gives the police and prosecutors additional time to locate and subpoena witnesses. With the COVID-19 pandemic, most courts (including the Washtenaw County Trial Court) have conducted the entire PCC Docket via Zoom. This often results in 60-80 felony cases being held at one time.Once again, this has created a “blessing/curse” phenomenon, as prosecutors seem more inclined to resolve cases, but defendants are frequently left waiting for weeks/months to have their hearings conducted.
Geherin Law Group, PLLC (“GLGMichigan”) has defended thousands of felony cases in Washtenaw County and throughout Southeastern Michigan. Firm founder Daniel T. Geherin is a former prosecutor and board-certified criminal defense attorney in Ann Arbor who has been practicing law for over 23 years. He has been rated by Martindale-Hubbell as AV-Preeminent; listed in The Best Lawyers in America; named by Super Lawyers Magazine in the field of Criminal Defense; recognized as a “Top Lawyer” by Detroit Business Magazine; and scored 10/10 “superb” by AVVO.com.He also has received 150+ 5-star client reviews.
Dan and his team have defended virtually every felony offense---from high-profile homicide cases to theft, drug and driving felony allegations.If you have been charged with any felony, and are looking for a dedicated, specialized, and aggressive attorney to handle your case either at Arraignment or prior to the PCC, please call or email GLG Michigan 24/7 at (734) 263-2780 or online info@GLGMichigan.com.We’ll explain the process, discuss various options, and work zealously to deliver personal attention, personal options, and personal justice to each felony client we represent.