If you still don't have an attorney by the preliminary hearing date, I would go to the hearing and sign a waiver of the hearing - nearly all of these hearings are unnecessary. If you are not in jail, then I would proceed that way. Of course, this depends on the facts of the case so you really should try and get an attorney.
But not always. You have the right to be represented by an attorney at your preliminary hearing. Your attorney will be able to explain to you the charges, what form of punishment you may be facing (probation or prison) and make arguments on your behalf.
In the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, there is a long-standing practice of dismissing charges if a witness does not show up at the preliminary hearing.
If the defendant has been released on bail or "own recognizance" ("OR"), the court can conduct the preliminary hearing at a later time. However, the preliminary hearing must occur within a reasonable time after arrest. An unreasonable delay violates the defendant's federal constitutional sixth amendment right to a speedy trial.
If you have a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side, then charges can be downgraded or entirely dismissed during a preliminary hearing. How Do I Use the Preliminary Hearing to My Benefit?
Possible Outcomes Of The Preliminary Hearing The most prevalent outcome of a preliminary hearing is that the judge finds probable cause to charge you. If so, then you will be held to answer for the charges and the matter is transferred within the next 15 days to trial court for all further proceedings10.
Preliminary hearings serve to protect the defendant from unfounded criminal charges—making sure the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to allow a criminal trial to go forward.
Steps to Prepare for Your HearingReview the Order Following Prehearing Conference. ... Request an Interpreter, If Needed. ... Contact Witnesses, Get Subpoenas for Witnesses and Documents. ... Prepare Your Witness List Well in Advance of the Hearing. ... Read the Evidence from the Other Parties. ... Prepare the Questions for Your Own Witnesses.
Who needs to attend? Other than in exceptional cases, the representatives from both parties must be in attendance at a preliminary hearing. Where the Tribunal need to decide a preliminary issue, witnesses may also need to attend.
It is very unlikely that you would go to jail at the preliminary hearing. The court's job is not to find the defendant guilty or not guilty. Instead, the judge's role is to determine whether there is enough evidence for the charges to proceed to the Court of Common Pleas for trial.
The common sense advice I give to my clients is to dress comfortably but conservatively. Make sure your appearance is clean and considerate. Avoid flashy and/or provocative attire and accessories. The goal should be to represent clearly that you respect the court and respect yourself.
For example, a pre-hearing statement may include the following items:a statement of facts to which both parties have stipulated, together with a statement that the parties have communicated in good faith to stipulate to the fullest extent possible.a list of proposed witnesses and what they will establish.More items...•
The court may set any criminal case for a pre-trial hearing before it is set for trial. A pre-trial is a meeting with the state's attorney and the defendant and/or his or her attorney to determine the following: Any motions that the defendant or defendant's attorney wants to file.
You can try to consult with a private attorney immediately and see if someone can represent you at the preliminary hearing and advise you on whether to waive it. If you cannot afford a private attorney, make sure you contact the Public Defender's office at least 10 business days before the trial date or they will not represent you...
If you still don't have an attorney by the preliminary hearing date, I would go to the hearing and sign a waiver of the hearing - nearly all of these hearings are unnecessary. If you are not in jail, then I would proceed that way.
You might request postponement. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the prosecution's case, any defenses that you might have, and any plea offer that might be made, so that you can decide whether to go to trial. Consider seeking a confidential consultation...
Remember a PH is a hearing to determine if there is ample evidence or probable cause to proceed to trial in the Circuit Court, it is not a trial and a defendant can waive same in which event the case will be transferred to CC. Meeting with an experienced attorney can provide you with the necessary knowledge whether to hold the PH or not...
Preliminary Hearings in the counties surrounding Philadelphia are quite different. Instead of at the county courthouse they often take place in front of Magisterial Judges, who may have offices in small strip malls or the back of police stations. It can be quite a different experience than in the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center. In the counties, Defendants also receive preliminary hearings for misdemeanors as well as felonies. Therefore, there are some pros and cons….in the counties you have a much better chance of working out a diversionary program or reduced charges at the Preliminary Hearing without having to go to the county courthouse at all. In these instances, the Commonwealth may simply dismiss the charges after community service or payment of a fine.
Published: January 19, 2019. A Preliminary Hearing is the first hearing scheduled after Preliminary Arraignment and arrest. Simply, put, a Preliminary Hearing is the best and earliest hearing to have the charges against you dropped, downgraded or dismissed. it is imperative that you have a lawyer at Preliminary Hearing.
If you waive your preliminary hearing and then decide to proceed to trial, you will be at a serious disadvantage. There have been numerous times, an inconsistent statement made by a witness during preliminary hearing have resulted in a not guilty at trial.
The defenses’ ability to challenge evidence at a preliminary hearing is why it is such a crucial step in the criminal justice process. For example, if a defendant is accused of Aggravated Assault (F1), it is possible to challenge the complaining witnesses injuries to see if they reach the level of “serious bodily injury” which is required by ...
At trial, the Commonwealth has to prove their charges beyond a reasonable doubt, during a preliminary hearing the Commonwealth must only show that there was probable cause that a crime was committed and more than likely the Defendant was the one who committed it. This standard is often referred to as a prima facie case.
The hearings take place at the Juanita Kidd-Stout Criminal Justice Center located at 1301 Filbert Street , Philadelphia, Pa 19107. A preliminary hearing may appear to be like a trial, but it is not. At trial, the Commonwealth has to prove their charges beyond a reasonable doubt, during a preliminary hearing the Commonwealth must only show that there was probable cause that a crime was committed and more than likely the Defendant was the one who committed it. This standard is often referred to as a prima facie case. If the Commonwealth establishes this evidence the Defendant is then “held over” for Court and the litigation continues. A preliminary hearing is not a motion to suppress, where the Defense may argue the police action was unconstitutional or the proper venue to argue that the witness is lying; however, there are several ways to win at a preliminary hearing.
The maximum penalty for an Aggravated Assault is 10-20 years imprisonment, while the maximum penalty for a simple assault is 1-2 years. Clearly, hiring an attorney at your preliminary hearing is imperative to effectively fight your charges.
In McClelland, the Defendant was accused of sexual assaulting a minor. At the preliminary hearing the minor did not testify, but instead the State Trooper who investigated the matter was called as the sole witness at the preliminary hearing.
The Court states, “The primary reason for the preliminary hearing is to protect an individual’s right against unlawful arrest and detention. ”. Commonwealth ex rel. Maisenhelder v.
The courts in Philadelphia, PA have long recognized that a preliminary hearing or probable cause hearing is an important step in the criminal justice process. In the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, there is a long-standing practice of dismissing charges if a witness does not show up at the preliminary hearing.
Its purpose is to ensure that there is probable cause for the arrest and that there is enough evidence for the charge to proceed to trial.
Oftentimes, if the eyewitness does not appear in court, then the Commonwealth lacks a big piece of their evidence, and the case may be dismissed. Previously in Pennsylvania, it has been unclear whether or not a defendant can be held over for court based solely on hearsay evidence.
A defendant (i.e., their lawyer) is permitted to confront their accused, cross-examine the witnesses, and make arguments regarding the sufficiency of the evidence and the proper grading of the charges. The district attorney will present evidence to show that this case should go to trial and the charges against the defendant are warranted. ...
The best-case scenario is that the charges against you are dropped or reduced. You also have the opportunity to reduce your bail. Therefore, it makes sense to be aggressive at the preliminary hearing. On the other hand, there’s not much to lose at a preliminary hearing. You’ve already been charged with the crimes.
The prosecution’s burden at a preliminary hearing is very low and challenging their argument will do little if anything to cause the judge to dismiss or downgrade charges. It is much stronger to argue what the prosecution didn’t present.
Preliminary hearings are for the prosecution to present its prima facie case against the accused and not to establish guilt. Your defense attorney, however, must use this opportunity to lock the prosecution’s witnesses into an answer and there is no better way of doing it than leading questions.
During the hearing your attorney should collect information about the lighting conditions, the witness’s position in relation to the incident, the length of the observation and what, if anything, was happening around the witness during the observation. 2. Ask only leading questions of the prosecution’s witnesses.
A preliminary hearing will provide your attorney with an important opportunity to analyze the evidence against you and begin to formulate a strong legal defense. In addition, your attorney may be able to negotiate a lighter sentence or a reduction of charges.
The arresting officer will file the the criminal charges. The District Attorney’s Office will prosecute those charges by offering evidence against you. Evidence can take the form of testimony from witnesses, scientific testing, and statements made to the police. A preliminary hearing does not determine guilt or innocence.
In Lancaster County certain preliminary hearings are held downtown at the courthouse (DUI’s and domestic violence cases). The arresting officer will file the the criminal charges.
You have the right to be represented by an attorney at your preliminary hearing. Your attorney will be able to explain to you the charges, what form of punishment you may be facing (probation or prison) and make arguments on your behalf.
In order for the court to continue holding a felony defendant in custody, the court must conduct the preliminary hearing within the amount of time prescribed by state law and issue a formal charging instrument, sometimes referred to as a "criminal information.". If the preliminary hearing is not conducted within the time prescribed, ...
Plea before Preliminary Hearing. If you are arrested or receive notice that you will be charged with a felony, contact an attorney immediately. A knowledgeable attorney can protect your rights and keep you informed through the preliminary hearing process.
In any felony case, an arrest or a criminal complaint is not enough to require the defendant to stand trial for the crime. Shortly after arraignment, the court must conduct a proceeding—a preliminary hearing or a grand jury proceeding—where the state is required to present enough evidence to establish "probable cause" to believe ...
If the grand jury finds probable cause, the state issues an indictment against the defendant and he must stand trial for the charges.
If the evidence is not sufficient to establish probable cause, the judge must dismiss the charges. Some states use grand jury proceedings as an alternative to a preliminary hearing. The prosecutor presents evidence to a grand jury made up of members of the public. No judge is present but the grand jury is instructed to review ...
An unreasonable delay violates the defendant's federal constitutional sixth amendment right to a speedy trial. If a defendant is arrested or charged in a criminal complaint and the prosecutor's office or the court does not schedule the preliminary hearing until months or years later, the case can be dismissed because of the delay. ...
A defendant is entitled to have an attorney represent them at a preliminary hearing. If the defendant requests an attorney, the court cannot conduct the hearing without ensuring that the defendant has private counsel or appointing an attorney—such as a public defender—to represent the defendant.