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Understanding a preliminary hearing

When you're accused of a crime, one of the first things you have to do is have a hearing. While an initial hearing might not do much, it can be an important time in your case. If you potentially have to go to trial, one of the first court appearances you'll go to is a preliminary hearing. This hearing is similar to an arraignment in that the judge hears the defendant's plea. Additionally, the judge can decide at this point if there is enough evidence to move forward with the case. If there is not, then the case may be dismissed at this point. If there is enough evidence, then the next step is a standard trial.

The judge has to decide if there is enough evidence for probable cause. That means that there must be enough evidence to convince a reasonable jury that the person who allegedly committed a crime is guilty. At this point, the prosecution does not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a crime; instead, it only needs to show that it has a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest your guilt.

The judge listens to both sides' arguments before deciding if the case has merit. The prosecution may call witnesses to testify and may also have physical evidence to introduce. Your attorney, the defense attorney, will also cross-examine any witnesses and question any evidence that has been brought to the court by the prosecution.

Your attorney can help prepare you for your hearing as well as any possible speaking you'll need to do in court. With an experienced attorney by your side, you can make a good impression on the court.

Source: FindLaw, "Preliminary Hearing," accessed Sep. 06, 2017

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