The Rule of Criminal Procedure newly enacted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court permits the use of indicting grand juries instead of Preliminary Hearings. Before an individual accused of a crime was entitled to a preliminary hearing and the government could not use the indicting grand jury. If a prima facie case was established, the matter was bound over to an indicting grand jury, Indiciting grand jury which would then determine whether a Bill of Indictment should issue. In 1973, the Pennsylvania Constitution was amended to authorize the Courts of Common Pleas to provide for the initiation of criminal proceedings by information "filed in the manner provided by law." Pa. Const. Art. I, § 10. In order to implement the amendment, the Act provided that "[n]o information shall be filed by the district attorney or the special attorney appointed by the Attorney General concerning alleged criminal violations where a preliminary hearing has not been held or properly waived except as prescribed in the rules of criminal procedure." In short, the Pennsylvania Legislature explicitly divested the Courts of Common Pleas of the jurisdiction to provide for initiation of criminal proceedings via an indicting grand jury, and in so doing created a substantive, positive right of an accused to receive a preliminary hearing and to be free from indictment by an indicting grand jury.
For the first time since 1973, District Attorney's throughout Pennsylvania may now use Indicting Grand Juries in lieu of Preliminary Hearings to charge a criminal Defendant with a crime. The law in Pennsylvania used to be that everyone charged with a misdemeanor or felony charge was entitled to a Preliminary Hearing where they could challenge the government's case before a magistrate judge. Now however, new sections of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure which have been enacted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court permits the government to file criminal charges against an accused through an indicting grand jury. If an accused is indicted by a Pennsylvania Grand Jury, they no longer have a right to a Preliminary Hearing and an opportunity to have their Chester County Criminal Defense Attorney cross-examine witnesses against them. Representing public officials before the Grand Jury