One issue that arises with great frequency in Criminal Defense cases is should I waive my Preliminary Hearing? Before we answer and look at that question it is helpful to review just what a Preliminary Hearing is. A Preliminary Hearing is a statutory right that is given to criminal defendants who are accused of committing certain crimes. sex crimes Specifically, individuals charged with having committed crimes that are either misdemeanors or felonies. The purpose of the Preliminary Hearing is to grant the accused due process protection since he is being placed on bail. Accordingly, the accused has the right to challenge the governments case by having his attorney cross-examine the government's witnesses and argue that the government cannot meet their burden that it is more likely than not that the defendant committed the crimes that he is charged with. After a hearing, where the government calls witnesses to testify, the defense can argue that some or all of the charges should be dismissed. Make sure to hire an experienced Chester County Criminal Lawyer if you scheduled for a Preliminary Hearing
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.
Everyone charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime in the state of Pennsylvania is entitled to a Preliminary Hearing. (The only exception is Pennsylvania's Indicting Grand Jury). At the Preliminary Hearing, the government must prove that there is a prima facie case that (1) an offense has been committed and (2) the defendant has committed it. If the government cannot meet this burden then the case must be dismissed. If the government does meet its burden, then the charges are "held over" and sent up to the Court of Common Pleas.