Preliminary Hearing Lawyers

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What Is a Preliminary Hearing?

A preliminary hearing is a legal proceeding used in some states where the judge determines whether there is probable cause that the defendant has committed the crime charged. If the judge finds that probable cause exists, the defendant is held to answer for the charges and the case proceeds to trial. If the judge finds that no probable cause exists, the charges are dismissed.

What Occurs at a Preliminary Hearing?

At a preliminary hearing, the prosecutor presents evidence and witnesses that establish probable cause that the defendant committed the crime charged. The defendant may cross-examine witnesses and may present his own evidence to prove that there is no probable cause that he committed the crime.

Is There a Preliminary Hearing for All Criminal Cases?

No. Most jurisdictions hold preliminary hearings only when a felony is charged. Other jurisdictions use a grand jury indictment instead of a preliminary hearing. Some jurisdictions require both a preliminary hearing and a grand jury indictment before the case will proceed. A preliminary hearing may also be waived.

What Can You Do if You Are Accused of a Felony or Have an Upcoming Preliminary Hearing?

If you are accused of a felony or have an upcoming preliminary hearing, you should speak to a criminal lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and the complicated legal system.

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Last Modified: 08-24-2011 04:12 PM PDT

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