Muskegon County, MI


How do I request a traffic hearing?

Requests for informal or formal hearings must be received 6 to 14 days from the date the ticket was issued. Failure to make a timely request for a hearing will result in entry of a default judgment against the defendant.To request an informal or formal hearing notify the court by phone, in person, or in writing that you are denying responsibility for your citation and specify if you wish to have an informal or formal hearing. Please notify the court of any dates and time that you will not be available to appear for your hearing. (The court will try to accommodate reasonable requests). Also, inform the court of the address you wish to have your notice to appear sent; if it is different from the address on your citation. A phone number where you can be reached during business hours 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. is appreciated.

How do I defend myself at a hearing?

You may testify on your own behalf, have witnesses testify on your behalf, and ask questions of the witnesses against you. It is expected that any questions will be concise, courteous, and not argumentative. You should also present any documents or other physical evidence you might have that supports your case. In general, remember that your hearing is your "day in court," so come prepared. Have your defense and questions ready.

How do I get my witnesses to appear?

You may ask witnesses to come in voluntarily, or if necessary, you may use the subpoena power of the court to obtain their attendance. Subpoena forms may be obtained from the court clerk.

Must I pay witnesses for appearing on my behalf?

Yes, if you are the party subpoenaing the witness. Check with the court clerk to find out current witness fee amounts.

What are the possible outcomes of a traffic hearing?

You may be found:

  • Not responsible
  • Responsible
  • Responsible for a lesser infraction than the one charged

What happens if the citing officer fails to appear?

If the officer does not appear, the case will be dismissed "with prejudice," which means you are not responsible for the offense charged and cannot be charged again in connection with the same incident.

What happens if I fail to appear?

If you fail to appear, the court will enter a default judgment against you. This means the court will automatically find you responsible for the infraction charged, set the fine and costs, and mail you a judgment notice requiring you to pay. If you do not pay the judgment within 28 days, the court will send you a 14-day notice. If you do not pay within 14 days of receiving the notice, your driver’s license will be suspended by the Secretary of State and the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.

Also, if you request an Informal Hearing and fail to appear at the hearing you may be assessed an additional fee.

What about violation points?

Points are assessed by the Secretary of State’s office when it receives notice from the court that you committed a moving traffic offense. The magistrate who finds you responsible cannot adjust the number of points assessed against you.

Do I have the right to appeal?

If you are found responsible by the magistrate after an informal hearing, you have the right to appeal for a formal hearing before the district judge. If the judge finds you responsible after a formal hearing, you have the right to appeal again to circuit court.

How do I appeal the decision made at an informal hearing?

Within 7 days of the judgment, you must complete an appeal form and file it with the court, together with an appeal bond equal to the fine and costs imposed by the magistrate. You do not have to pay a filing fee for the appeal.

What if I have further questions about informal hearings?

Ask any court employee. He or she will answer your question, or find you someone who can. However, court staff cannot provide you legal advice.