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Criminal Court FAQs

Q: How do I contact my court-appointed attorney?

To contact your court-appointed attorney, contact the Public Defender’s office at (269) 982-8698

Q: Is there a warrant for my arrest?

If a police agency contacts you and advises you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you must appear in court for arraignment. The police agency will advise you when to appear for arraignment either in St. Joseph at the courthouse or in Niles at the South County Building. However, you may be arrested on the warrant at any time prior to arraignment.

If, in the past, you were given or received a notice to appear in court for a hearing on a specific date and time for a misdemeanor criminal offense, a misdemeanor traffic offense, or a felony criminal offense and you didn't appear, a warrant would have been issued for your arrest. You must appear for arraignment either in St. Joseph at the courthouse or in Niles at the South County Building. Call the court at 269- 982-8682 in St. Joseph or 269-684-5274 in Niles. You may be arrested on the warrant at any time prior to arraignment.

Q: What do I do if I do not have the money to make payments or complete a program as I agreed when the Judge sentenced me?

You must come to the court and tell the Judge before your next payment is due or before the time you were ordered to complete a program. You must check in at the arraignment counter so your file can be obtained and sent into the courtroom for the Judge. If you fail to come to the court voluntarily to tell the Judge, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest for failure to pay and/or failure to complete a program(s).

Q: What do I do if I cannot appear in court on the day my appearance ticket or interim bond receipt states I must be at the court?

You must appear on or before the date you were told to appear or given a written notification to appear. If you have questions, or an emergency arises, you may call the court to explain your emergency. If you do not appear a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Q: I posted bond for my friend/relative to get out of jail and I received a notice in the mail to appear in court. Do I have to be in court on that day?

The notice is to inform you of the defendant's (your friend or relative) next court date. If the defendant does not appear, the bond money that you posted will be forfeited. The notice makes you aware of the court date so you can make sure that the defendant appears for his/her hearing at the court.

Q: My friend/relative was driving my car and (s)he was arrested for drunk driving. The Judge has ordered that my car be immobilized. Why did he immobilize my car and how do I get it back?

Changes were made to Michigan's drunk driving laws in 1999 (commonly called "Repeat Offender Legislation") that require the Judge to immobilize the vehicle involved in certain drunk driving offenses, regardless of who owns the vehicle.

You may call the court for information on how to file a motion and schedule an "innocent owner" hearing. The court will set a date and time for you to come to court and explain to the Judge why your vehicle should not be immobilized.


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Berrien County Courthouse
811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Berrien County Administration Center
701 Main Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
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Last Updated 4/22/2016   
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General Telephone: (269) 983-7111
From Niles, Buchanan, Galien: (269) 684-5274
From Three Oaks, New Buffalo, Lakeside, Union Pier: (269) 756-9571

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