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Glossary of Terms



collapse Category : Civil and Small Claims ‎(3)

​The summons does what its name suggests; it summons or calls the defendant before the court.


​The complaint is perhaps the more important document. In the complaint, the plaintiff makes allegations or accusations against the defendant. The plaintiff's complaint will charge the defendant either with causing bodily injury or property damage or with depriving the plaintiff of something of value to which the plaintiff believes he/she is entitled. The complaint will also request the court to award damages, that is money to the plaintiff to compensate them for their bodily injury or property damages or the thing of which they have been deprived.


​The defendant responds to the complaint by filing a document called an answer.

collapse Category : Criminal Division ‎(5)

​Defendant is advised of his/her rights, advised of the charge, advised of possible penalties, bond is set and a plea may be entered.


​An exchange of information between the two sides.


​To determine if a crime was committed and if the defendant may have committed the crime, (probable cause).

The final step in the legal process, a penalty is assessed for someone who is convicted of, or pled guilty to a crime.
​This conference occurs the week prior to the preliminary exam on all felony matters.  The purpose of the Probable Cause Conference is for the prosecutor, defendant, and defense attorney to have discussions regarding plea negotiations, bond modifications, stipulations regarding the case or any matters relevant to the case.
collapse Category : Traffic Division ‎(5)

Civil infractions are ​traffic violations such as speeding, improper turn, safety belt. These traffic violations are non-criminal. See Fines, Fees, and Costs Schedule for Civil Infractions.


​Misdemeanor traffic violations are violations such as drunk driving, driving while license suspended, improper plates. These traffic violations can result in arrest and/or may require court appearances.


Citation means "a complaint or notice upon which a police officer shall record an occurrence involving one or more violations by the person cited." The cited person is the defendant.

A citation can be a civil infraction or a misdemeanor depending on the seriousness of the violation.
All defendants who receive a citation must respond to the allegations on the citation. Refer to the back of your citation or contact the court for procedures regarding misdemeanors.  Defendant's Options

​A hearing conducted by a magistrate involving the police officer, the defendant and any witnesses, held without a prosecutor or defense attorney.


​A hearing conducted only by a district court judge involving the police officer, defendant and all witnesses. The defendant may be represented by an attorney and a prosecutor must be present. A pre-trial will be scheduled prior to the formal hearing in Allegan County.  How do I request a hearing?