What should I expect at a Preliminary Hearing? A Preliminary Hearing is the first chance for an accused in the criminal justice system to challenge the evidence against him. As a result of its importance, many defendants ask, what should I expect at a Preliminary Hearing? Even though the Preliminary Hearing gives the accused his first chance to challenge the evidence against him, his rights at this hearing are severely limited. Defending DUI cases Specifically, even though the defense attorney may challenge the government’s evidence at this hearing, there are many things that can’t be challenged. Specifically, the defense may not challenge the credibility of any government witness at this hearing. Meaning even if the defense shows that all of the government’s witnesses are lying, the district justice is still not permitted to dismiss the evidence against the accused. Because the defense is not permitted to challenge their credibility. Additionally, hearsay is permitted at these hearings. Frequently, the government doesn’t even need to call their actual witnesses to the stand at the Preliminary Hearing. Instead of calling the victim in a rape case, the government may sometimes put the police officer on the stand and let him testify about what the victim told him.
We have learned about the limitations that the defense has at a Preliminary Hearing, the question of What should I expect at a Preliminary Hearing has still only been partially answered. Chester County Intermediate Punishment Program AT a Preliminary Hearing the accused should expect to have his case heard by a District Justice who according to Pennsylvania law, is not required to be an attorney. The accused should expect that the government only needs to put on prima facie evidence of their case (meaning they only have to show that it is likely that the defendant committed the crime that he has been charged with). Contact the former prosecutors at the Law Offices of Kelly & Conte today if you have been charged with a crime and are facing a Preliminary Hearing.