Preliminary Hearings

Team Up With a Rockville Criminal Defense Attorney

A preliminary hearing is the first court date that scheduled when you are charged with a crime. In Maryland, this event is normally scheduled automatically. A criminal defense attorney can also request a preliminary hearing when entering his or her appearance in a felony case. Preliminary hearings normally take place in a Maryland district courthouse.

Probable Cause & Your Preliminary Hearing

The preliminary hearing is an essential part of every criminal case. It is not a part of the trial and doesn't address a defendant's guilt or innocence. Instead, the point of the preliminary hearing is for the court to determine whether or not there is probable cause to support a charge. Probable cause is some evidence or suspicion that a crime took place.

The burden to prove probably cause in a preliminary hearing is much simpler than the burden of proof in an actual court case. In most preliminary hearings, the judge will decide that there is probable cause and will push the case to circuit court. A skilled attorney may be able to dispute the probable cause at this hearing. In some cases, a defendant may be released at the time of the preliminary hearing if an attorney can prove that the there was no reason for the arrest.

Overview of the Preliminary Hearing Process

A preliminary hearing normally follows the following steps:

  • The state offers a broad outline of the crime and how the defendant was involved.
  • A single witness for the prosecution testifies about the case.
  • The defense has the opportunity to cross-examine the witness.
  • The judge decides whether or not there is probable cause to pursue the case.

Why You Need an Attorney at Your Preliminary Hearing

A preliminary hearing is your first opportunity to learn about the crime that you have been arrested for and what charges you are facing. The attorney who attends this hearing with you will be able to cross-examine effectively on your behalf.

Even if you are not able to prove that there is no probable cause in the preliminary hearing, your attorney can get a good idea as to how to proceed with your case based on this hearing. Contact a skilled Rockville criminal defense lawyer at Kennedy & Dolan to attend your preliminary hearing!

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