DUI Preliminary Hearings in Pennsylvania – What Should I Expect?

What You Should Know before a Preliminary Hearing for DUI in PA

If you were charged with DUI of alcohol or drugs in Pennsylvania, you were most likely given a date already for your preliminary hearing. This hearing occurs typically within 30 to 60 days from your arrest and takes place in the local District Court where the DUI arrest happened.

preliminary hearing dui pennsylvaniaThere are several things you should be aware of before this date, so you can make a best effort to prepare for the hearing and defend your rights.

First, you will not be sentenced at the preliminary hearing, as the goal of the hearing is to only determine whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to proceed with the case, such as blood alcohol content (BAC) results and proof that you were operating a motor vehicle from police reports, etc. You will not be sentenced to jail or taken to jail at a preliminary hearing, under most normal circumstances.

Second, the preliminary hearing is where you enter a guilty or not guilty plea. Always speak with an experienced Pittsburgh DUI attorney about your case well before your hearing date. A DUI lawyer is going to help you choose the best option for your circumstances in how to plea.

It’s important to remember that a DUI arrest does not always result in a conviction. You have options, like ARD program or Drug Court that could make a difference, as well as any number of other legal defenses.

Third, the preliminary hearing is the first place where your lawyer is going to be able to begin to negotiate plea options. It is a very important step in the process and it’s critical that you have an experienced and aggressive DUI lawyer to help negotiate on your behalf. It is possible to have your charges significantly reduced or dismissed at the preliminary hearing. 

If the Magistrate judge finds probable cause, she will then send your case to the County Court of Common Pleas, where an arraignment will be scheduled.

Learn more about the DUI Court process in Pennsylvania

Have a question about your DUI case or upcoming preliminary hearing in Pennsylvania? Call our team of top Pittsburgh DUI lawyers for a free consultation.

Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice.

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Can You Go To Jail at a Preliminary Hearing?

What Happens at a Preliminary Hearing in Pennsylvania?

If you or a loved one were charged with a crime recently and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing, you may be wondering what could happen at the hearing.

preliminary hearing jailtime

A preliminary hearing is not a trial, but rather a first step in a case used to determine if there is enough evidence against the defendant to move forward with the case. It also gives a first chance for the accused to defend themselves and exercise their rights. If there is not sufficient evidence, the charges could be dismissed at the hearing. 

If there is sufficient evidence to move the case forward, it will move from the Magistrate to the Court of Common Pleas for trial. This gives the defendant time to further prepare their defense. 

Could I go to Jail at a Preliminary Hearing?

While it is unlikely a person would go to jail at a preliminary hearing, they could be taken into custody at the preliminary hearing if bail is increased or revoked. If bail is increased, the defendant would remain in jail until the amount is paid. 

A defendant will not be found guilty or sentenced at the preliminary hearing; the hearing is only to determine whether to move the case forward or not. The “or not” is very important, because it is possible that the charges could be dismissed altogether.

The Preliminary Hearing is Very Important

If you were charged with a crime, the preliminary hearing gives you a first chance to make a defense and tell your side of the story. The preliminary hearing is crucial to your defense. Make sure you have an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you at the preliminary hearing who already understands your situation and explains beforehand what you can expect. An aggressive defense attorney with a thorough understanding of the law and the prosecutors is going to fight for your case to be dismissed and argue evidence to proceed is lacking.

Witnesses may be presented and testimony heard, but briefly, and only for the purpose of determining if there is enough evidence to move forward with your case, not to make a verdict. 

Your attorney will be able to cross-examine any witnesses and/or argue that the evidence is not sufficient. Your attorney can also challenge evidence, requesting that it be thrown out. Your attorney may also request that your case be dismissed, if they feel the prosecution has not gathered enough evidence.

Unlike a full trial, the prosecution does not need evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a preliminary hearing. They need only have “prima facie”, which means they need proof it is more likely than not that you committed the crime in question.

Read more about Preliminary Hearings in Pennsylvania.

Are you or a loved one facing criminal charges?

If you have been charged with a crime in Pittsburgh or Southwest Pennsylvania, Ketchel Law can provide a free legal consultation. Our criminal attorneys are top-rated and located in downtown Pittsburgh. We have been successfully representing clients for nearly a decade and are here to help you fight your charges and win your case.

Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice.

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