What to Expect at a Preliminary Hearing
If you are accused of a felony offense, there will be a step in the criminal process called the preliminary hearing. Also referred to as a “probable cause” hearing or a “trial before the trial,” the preliminary hearing is where the judge will determine if the evidence presented by the prosecution is sufficient to move forward with your case.
It is important to be represented by a skilled criminal defense attorney who can challenge the evidence against you at the preliminary hearing. Our skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending clients facing felony charges for more than 40 years. Contact our law firm now if you have been accused of a felony offense.
What is the Purpose of a Preliminary Hearing?
The purpose of the preliminary hearing is not for the judge to decide your guilt, but rather to determine whether the prosecution has enough evidence to support proceeding to a trial. The burden of proof for the prosecution at a preliminary hearing is “probable cause,” which means the prosecution must show its evidence could convince a reasonable jury that there is strong suspicion that you are guilty of the crime.
At the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor will call witnesses to testify and often will introduce physical evidence. Your criminal defense lawyer will have the opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses.
Depending on how much evidence there is, the hearing could be as short as 30 minutes or may stretch over a number of days.
The judge has a few options at the hearing. He or she could:
- Determine the evidence is sufficient to move forward with the charges against you
- Dismiss the case, or
- Reduce your felony charge to a misdemeanor charge if the crime is considered a wobbler offense
Do You Need an Attorney for the Preliminary Hearing?
It is crucial to be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney at your preliminary hearing. Your attorney’s experience can be extremely valuable in spotting and pointing out weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, including issues with physical evidence and the credibility of witnesses.
Your criminal defense attorney can serve a very valuable purpose at your preliminary hearing. There will be a transcript prepared as to all evidence presented at a preliminary hearing. Your lawyer can cross-examine the key witnesses against you at the preliminary hearing. If the case goes to trial, your experienced lawyer can use the transcript of what the witness said at the preliminary hearing to “impeach” that witness when he or she testifies at trial. Inconsistencies between what a witness testified to at a preliminary hearing and trial can be grounds for the jury to find you not guilty.
An experienced attorney will also work with you to determine whether you should present your own evidence at the preliminary hearing or if it is best to wait until the trial to put forward any evidence in your support.
Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you have been charged with a felony, you should seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney from Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible. Our skilled criminal defense lawyers have more than 40 years of experience successfully defending clients facing felony charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.