At a Preliminary Hearing, one of two things can happen. The District Justice can hold the charges against the criminal defendant and send the charges to the Court of Common Pleas where the defendant will have a jury trial or the district justice can dismiss the criminal charges. What are Preliminary Hearings If the charges are dismissed the government can re-file the criminal charges dismissed at the Preliminary Hearing. While the Commonwealth, may re-file charges after a dismissal at the preliminary hearing, there are limits to its authority to do so, and even greater limits on its ability to seek that the matter be reassigned to a different magistrate. For example, the Commonwealth must refile charges prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, and the Commonwealth may not reinstitute the charges in an effort to harass the defendant or where the refiling would prejudice the defendant.

When in connection with a refiling criminal charges dismissed at a Preliminary Hearing where the Commonwealth also seeks to have the matters heard before a different magistrate than the one which originally dismissed the charges, Rules also requires that the Commonwealth’s attorney file a motion requesting that a court of common pleas judge assign a different issuing authority to conduct the preliminary hearing. sex crimes The motion also must set forth the reasons for requesting a different issuing authority. If the Commonwealth’s conduct intrudes unreasonably upon the due process right of individuals to be free from governmental coercion, the Commonwealth should not be permitted to present the case repeatedly before successive magistrates. In its review, therefore, the court must balance the need of the Commonwealth to re-present its case against the due process requirement that individuals shall be free of unreasonable and unnecessary government coercion. Make sure to consult with an experienced Chester County Criminal Lawyer when evaluating a reassignment motion when and/or if the criminal charges against you have been dismissed.