Released with a ticket

New law changes the penalty of some misdemeanors to appearance tickets in lieu of arrest

Ferris DPS is now handing out appearance tickets, rather than arrests, for certain misdemean- ors and

Most low-level misdemeanors that previously could have resulted in up to one year in jail have become appearance tickets. Photo by: Cassidy Jessup | Multimedia Editor


“An appearance ticket is a way to order a person to court to an- swer an official charge without the custodial arrest,” Captain Gary Green, assistant director of the Ferris DPS, said. “The major difference is that now there is a mandate from the state which requires the officer to issue an appearance ticket when there is probable cause for certain mis- demeanor crimes, and the perpe- trator doesn’t pose a significant threat to the public.”

The change took effect on April 1, 2021 whick comes after a 2020 bill passed by the State. Of- ficers must hand out an appear- ance ticket instead of taking an individual into custody for certain violations and misdemeanors. Before, officers have been able to choose to hand out the tickets, the bill now mandates officers to do so.

Certain misdemeanors are ex- empt from being issued appear- ance tickets. According to a legal update from the Michigan police department, individuals arrested for domestic violence, violation of a restraining order and other as- sault charges are to be taken into custody and not released. Those who are suspected to be a flight risk or a danger to themselves or others are also exempt from be- ing issued an appearance ticket.

The biggest change for Ferris students and DPS is going to be for how individuals found driving while impaired will be handled, according to Green. Unless there

is the belief the individual is a harm to themselves or others, officers are required to issue an appearance ticket and release the individual from custody.

“This is difficult and goes against all the training and edu- cation officers are given, because obviously that person’s judge- ment is impaired already other- wise [they] wouldn’t have behind the wheel in the first place,” Green explained.

As of April 21, there has only been one appearance ticket is- sued by Ferris DPS that would have been an arrest prior to the change. The ticket was issued for operating while intoxicated to a student after they were returned to their residence hall.

The change aims to help low- er the number of people entering local jails. While prison overpop- ulation has existed for years, COVID-19 has highlighted the issue further. The close quarters within prisons contributed to the fast spread of COVID-19.

However, some are concerned the change may be abused by those released with appearance tickets. While officers can arrest individuals they feel are dangers to themselves or others, there is a chance that those individuals can still be released.

“In the long run, I think it’s going to have a few problems be- cause of the limitations for what crimes it says you can arrest for,” criminal justice major Mitchell Musial said. “Some offenders are high flight risk and won’t show up unless they are arrested.”

As of now, it is too soon to tell if there will be individuals who abuse the changes and use their release to try to avoid court.