Preliminary Hearings Pennsylvania | Ketchel Law - Criminal Defense

Preliminary Hearings

PRELIMINARY HEARINGS IN PENNSYLVANIA

No matter what criminal charges you are facing, every criminal trial follows the same schedule and rules of procedure in an effort to make them fair. A preliminary hearing is an important step in the criminal trial process.

Some people even argue that the preliminary hearing is the most important step of the criminal trial process. Not only will it give you a good look at the evidence against you, but it is also your first chance to defend yourself and protect your rights.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Pennsylvania, you should enlist the help of an experienced criminal attorney. They can help you through every step of the process.

It is of utmost importance to try to avoid a conviction at all costs. The only way to do this is to have an aggressive criminal defense trial attorney on your side fighting for you, defending your rights and freedom.

DEFEND YOUR RIGHTS—An arrest is not a conviction.

If you have been charged with a crime, or think you may be charged soon, call Justin Ketchel today for a free legal consultation at 412-456-1221. 

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED.

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

WHAT TO EXPECT AT A PRELIMINARY HEARING

A preliminary hearing can be described as a mini trial. But, while it has some similarities to an actual trial, it is far more brief and far less in depth than an actual criminal trial.

The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to make sure that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has enough evidence to continue their case against you. It is the Court’s way of weeding out weak, or unsubstantiated, cases.

In a criminal trial, the burden of proof is a standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means the prosecution must prove that the defendant committed the crime with such surety as to rid the judge or jury of all reasonable doubt. However, the burden is not the same in a preliminary hearing.

Since a defendant’s guilt or innocence is not being determined at the preliminary hearing, there is a lower standard of proof. That standard is one of more likely than not that the defendant committed the crime. The goal is to determine if there is a prima facie case, which simply put means enough evidence exists, to move forward.

The preliminary hearing occurs in front of a court magistrate in the district of PA where you were arrested. If the magistrate finds there is enough evidence to go to trial, your case will then be moved to the Court of Common Pleas where the criminal trial will take place.

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED.

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE PRELIMINARY HEARING

The Court will schedule your preliminary hearing after your preliminary arraignment and bail is determined.

Rule 540 (E) (1) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure states that the preliminary hearing should be held three to ten days after the defendant’s preliminary arraignment.

At the hearing, someone from the prosecutor’s office will present, for the first time, the evidence against you. This is one reason why it is extremely important to have quality attorney representation at the preliminary hearing. At this stage, your attorney would not have access to the evidence yet, so it is any important information gathering step for the defense.

It is run a bit like a mini trial. Witnesses will be presented and testimony will be heard, but briefly, with less evidentiary protection, and only for the purpose of determining if there is enough evidence to move forward.

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED.

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PRELIMINARY HEARING

Why have a mini trial before the trial? It is important that the Court sort out weak cases before they get to trial. If the prosecution cannot meet its burden of proof at this stage, it is unlikely to meet it at the tougher trial phase.

For a defendant, the preliminary hearing is a valuable tool for gaining insight into the prosecution’s case. Before the preliminary hearing, the defense is not usually granted the opportunity to begin discovery, so they are usually unaware of the evidence.

In addition, your attorney is able to cross-examine witnesses, argue that evidence is insufficient, and challenge evidence that they believe should be thrown out. The less evidence you have against you, the better. If your attorney can get enough evidence dismissed, or feels that the prosecution has not met its burden, they can request that your whole case be dismissed.

Lastly, the preliminary hearing is also a good stage to begin negotiating a plea deal. If your attorney hears the evidence against you and determines that this may be a good strategy, they can begin the process and try to come to an agreement before you ever have to go to trial.

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED.

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

HOW A PITTSBURGH CRIMINAL ATTORNEY CAN HELP

At Ketchel Law, our greatest strength lies in critically analyzing and dissecting the details of a police officer’s report looking for inherent weaknesses and questioning the testimony of any experts or witnesses.

If the police officer conducted an illegal search or seizure or arrested you without probable cause, I’ll immediately file a suppression motion seeking a dismissal of your charges.

At Ketchel Law, we will do everything we can to minimize your expenses. You are never charged for phone calls or emails and your initial consultation is always free.

We understand what you are going through and will tirelessly fight on your behalf to ensure that your arrest has a minimal impact on every aspect of your life.

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED.

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

Call the law offices of Justin J. Ketchel at 412-456-1221. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice.

Learn More about Defending Your Rights in Pennsylvania:

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FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

Learn more about Ketchel Law:

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: HAVING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES REDUCED OR DISMISSED.

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION