If the re-filing of the charges reaches the level of prosecutorial harassment, then the prosecutor’s decision could begin to impact the defendant’s right to due process. A judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, court reporter, and court clerk are all likely to be there, making it look like a trial. One of our attorneys will contact you shortly to discuss how we can help. In that case, the Municipal Court judge or magistrate would hear arguments on bail and could increase bail or leave bail the same. At a preliminary hearing, you and the prosecutor both present your case to the Judge with witnesses and evidence. Alternatively, refusing to waive the hearing sends a message to the prosecution that the defendant plans on fighting the case. At McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we fight to protect your rights and represent your best interests. At that time, the defendant learns more about his rights and the charges against him, arrangements are made for him to have an attorney, … If the defendant is out on bail, it must be scheduled within 21 days of the initial appearance. Despite the fact that many of the differences between a preliminary hearing and a trial favor the prosecution, these hearings are still a critical stage in the criminal justice process for the defense. If you are in custody, the Preliminary Hearing must happen within 30 days of your arrest. In some states, the defendant must specifically ask for a prelim. Call 267-225-2545 to speak with one of our criminal defense lawyers. © 2020 McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., All Rights Reserved. Shortly after an arrest, the prosecutor’s charges may face judicial review during the preliminary hearing. Despite its name, a preliminary hearing is actually often the half-way point in a felony case (this includes cases involving both felony and misdemeanor charges). The preliminary hearing is like a mini-trial. Instead, the case will go right to trial in front of a Municipal Court Judge. Preliminary hearings are conducted in the Maryland District Courts. Generally, the amount of hearsay that the judge will permit the Commonwealth to introduce really depends on the judge. If the defendant has not been able to make bail, then our criminal defense attorneys may make a motion for a bail reduction. It usually does not make sense to waive it unless there is some sort of firm offer on the table which the defendant wishes to accept or unless there is a requirement in that county that the hearing be waived in exchange for ARD consideration. Related Articles: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices Can't Agree On Admissibility of Hearsay At Preliminary Hearing. Therefore, whether you should waive your right to a hearing is an extremely important decision that should be made only with the advice of experienced criminal defense counsel. Although the hearing is a critical step in the process, it can also be frustrating and confusing for the defendant because the hearing differs significantly from the trial. If you are charged with a felony, you do not enter a plea during your arraignment. In Philadelphia, the judges typically require the prosecution to introduce live witness testimony from the complaining witness or actual eyewitnesses to the alleged crime. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices Can't Agree On Admissibility of Hearsay At Preliminary Hearing. A preliminary hearing is usually not necessary if you’re indicted by a grand jury instead, which is sometimes the case with more serious crimes. Hearsay as provided by law shall be considered by the issuing authority in determining whether a prima facie case has been established. Thank you. 2. This split between the procedures in the counties and in Philadelphia will likely narrow due to the recent Supreme Court decision, but some differences will probably still remain. Those decisions, however, have been overruled as of July 21, 2020 by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. There are limits on the prosecution’s ability to endlessly re-file cases at this lower level, but it is clear that the Commonwealth can re-file at least once and sometimes twice. We will typically waive the hearing only when the defendant has already been approved for some sort of diversionary program such as ARD or treatment court. Within some criminal justice systems, a preliminary hearing, preliminary examination, preliminary inquiry, evidentiary hearing or probable cause hearing is a proceeding, after a criminal complaint has been filed by the prosecutor, to determine whether there is enough evidence to require a trial. The Commonwealth may, however, re-file the case and proceed even after a case has been dismissed, and in some cases, the Commonwealth may obtain an arrest warrant for their witnesses so that the police can bring the witnesses to court by force. The prosecution can move forward with its case against you. If you are accused of a felony offense, there will be a step in the criminal process called the preliminary hearing. The judge is not permitted to make a credibility decision as to whether the witnesses are telling the truth or the Commonwealth will win at trial. In most cases, the “prelim” is the first opportunity for our criminal defense lawyers to challenge the evidence and charges against you. Related: Should I Plead Guilty To DUI In Pennsylvania? By the time of the pretrial conference, your attorney will have what is referred to as “discovery materials,” which tend to be: 1. The Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure require the court to offer a defendant the opportunity for a preliminary hearing quickly following their preliminary arraignment where they enter a plea. During a preliminary hearing, the judge determines whether probable cause exists that the defendant committed the crime and whether to allow the case to move forward to the Court of Common Pleas. If you have an upcoming preliminary hearing, you need representation from one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers immediately. The preliminary hearing is an extremely important step in the criminal justice process, and our criminal lawyers have successfully moved for dismissal of some or all of the charges in countless cases. Although the hearing is required to be held within ten court days of an accused’s arraignment, the accused, or defendant, often waives time to allow the hearing to take place later. This is particularly true for preliminary hearings in Philadelphia. If you answer ready on this date … Is There Any Difference Between a ‘No Contest’ Vs. ‘Guilty’ Plea in a DUI Case in Pennsylvania? If the judge does not find probable cause that a felony has been committed by the defendant, then felony is dismissed. In some cases, it may be possible to have charges changed, reduced or dismissed at the Preliminary Hearing. Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers offer a 15-minute, complimentary criminal defense strategy session. Many of our winning motion to suppress and trial strategies are built through effective cross examination at the preliminary hearing even in cases where the charges are held for court. This means that the judicial officer must believe there is sufficient evidence. Therefore, you should not assume that just because a case was held for court that you will be convicted at trial. What Happens at a Preliminary Hearing? Valuable tool to establish testimony and elicit facts for trial habeas corpus.! 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