Steps in Criminal Cases: Preliminary Hearing

If you have been charged with a felony, you have a right to a preliminary examination hearing. At that hearing, the State, through the district attorney, has the burden of proof and must produce a witness to provide testimony that establishes probable cause that: a felony was probably committed and that you probably committed it. At this type of hearing, hearsay is permissible. This means that the witness, often times a law enforcement officer, may testify to what he or she was told by another witness or alleged victim. At a preliminary hearing you have a right to examine the witness through cross examination. If the State meets its burden, a defendant will be “bound over for trial”, which means that there is sufficient information for the case to proceed to trial. If the court determines that sufficient proof is not established at a preliminary hearing, the charges may be dismissed or amended.  

A preliminary hearing is not a trial in which the court determines guilt or innocence. However, it is an important step in the criminal justice process. During a preliminary hearing a defense may be discovered or the court may determine that the charge is not appropriate. If you have been charged with a felony and need help, call our team today!