What is a Preliminary Hearing? Technically speaking a Preliminary Hearing is a proceeding before a judicial officer, in most cases a District Justice, in which the District Justice must decide whether a crime was committed, whether the crime occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, and whether there is “probable cause” to believe that the defendant committed the crime. In making this determination the District Justice must be provided with “evidence” that is sufficient to establish the fact in question unless rebutted.
For a Defense attorney the Preliminary Hearing can be an invaluable tool in your client’s defense. The Preliminary Hearing is your first chance to hear the Commonwealth’s evidence, explore it, challenge it and lock potential witnesses into statements as the proceeding is recorded. In addition to the discovery, the Preliminary hearing can also give you a glimpse into the prosecution’s theory behind their case, what they are going to argue at trial and what they deem to be important evidence and what evidence they are overlooking.
Bottom line if you want to take your criminal matter to trial you need to think twice before you allow an attorney to waive your preliminary hearing. While the standard of proof the commonwealth must meet is low, the information and incite you can gain is huge.
If you or someone you love is facing a criminal matter contact the Law Office of John E. Kusturiss, Jr. P.L.L.C. today for a free consultation. Attorneys Kusturiss and Poole have the experience and know how to help guide you through what can be a confusing process.