PENNSYLVANIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE RESOURCES
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PENNSYLVANIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE INFORMATION
- PRELIMINARY HEARINGS -
What you need to know!
What is a Preliminary Hearing?
A "Prelim" is the first evidentiary hearing in your case, and short of a jury trial, probably the most important hearing. At this hearing the government must prove a prima facie case against you, or the charges can and will be thrown out. A skilled attorney should always be consulted before attending one of these hearings, as you may loose your first and best chance to have charges dismissed or the witnesses and police cross examined. At this hearing your lawyer can ask questions, present some evidence, ask that the charges be dismissed in whole or in part, or even help you enter a guilty plea to some minor charges. In DUI cases it maybe the only chance your lawyer has to test the evidence of the probable cause for your stop and DUI arrest.
What does Prima Facie mean?
Prima facie means the government must demonstrate some evidence of each crime, and all the elements of those crimes, as well as prove that you maybe the person who committed that crime. Basically, lawyers say the evidence must be such that if believed, a juror could convict the defendant, and that the defendant can be at least preliminarily identified.
When does this hearing occur?
This hearing occurs after a summons or arrest. It usually takes place at a District Judge's office, or Central Court, depending upon the County. It is usually held within 10 days to 3 months of the initial incident, and can be continued by the request of either party.
Will I go to Jail after the Preliminary Hearing?
This hearing is usually not about guilt, so you won't be sentenced at the time of the hearing, as that happens later, if the charges are bound over to court. However, bail can be set at the hearing, and if you can't post it, you will be jailed. If you were physically arrested, you should have already has a preliminary arraignment, and bail set. Most minor crimes and first time offenders have very low bails, or are released on their own recognizance.
Do I need a lawyer?
You don't need a lawyer, and you can waive your right to counsel. You can also jump from a plane without a parachute. The results are usually the same.
A good lawyer can turn felonies into misdemeanors, have a case dismissed, gather important evidence from police and witnesses, reduce or prevent bail, or worst case scenario, test the case and decide that a further fight is not in your best interest. Simply said you have nothing to loose by having a lawyer evaluate your case at or before your hearing.
You can post your case for FREE, with Case Posth. Multiple lawyers will contact you, and you can discuss whether they can help, and how. Only if you decide to hire them do you have to pay, and you see which lawyer will charge the most or the least, and you decide which is the best value or fit for you. POST MY CASE NOW.
PACRIMINAL.COM does not provide legal advice or help. You should consider hiring or consulting with an attorney. Criminal Court is a serious matter, and a conviction can result in fines, costs, and jail time, as well as a permanent record. Talking with an attorney is your best option.
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