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Preliminary Hearing

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Published on Mar 5, 2015

Preliminary Hearings
Every person charged with a criminal offense in Pennsylvania is entitled to a preliminary hearing.
Do I have to appear in person for a preliminary hearing?
Yes. You must appear in court on the date and time set for your preliminary hearing. If you fail to appear a warrant for your arrest will be issued, called a bench warrant.
Why is there a preliminary hearing in my case?
The main purpose of a preliminary hearing is to protect your right against an unlawful arrest and detention. There are other good reasons to have a preliminary hearing scheduled in your case.
How does a preliminary hearing protect me from unlawful arrest & detention?
The Commonwealth must show that your arrest meets the minimum requirements established by law. At this hearing the Commonwealth must make at least a prima facie case – that is, at least a minimal showing – that a particular crime was committed and that you are probably the one who committed it. At this stage, the Commonwealth doesn’t have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to meet its burden the Commonwealth only must present some evidence regarding each of the material elements of the crime charged. If the government can’t meet this burden, your case will be dismissed.
I hear that many people waive their preliminary hearing. Should I waive mine?
It depends. A preliminary hearing is important because it helps you and your lawyer learn more about the circumstances surrounding the allegations. A preliminary hearing is the first – and often best – opportunity to gather information about the evidence that will be offered against you. More information is always better than less information. You also will make better decisions about your case with better information.
The preliminary hearing can help you obtain the information you need to make smart choices in your case. A preliminary hearing presents an opportunity for your lawyer to learn about the evidence that the Commonwealth will try to offer against you in support of the charges. This also means that you must be prepared for this important hearing.
If you can get all of the best information available without a preliminary hearing, then maybe you can waive the hearing. In other cases, the only way to obtain important information which will be necessary to execute your plan (develop all of your defenses or preserve legal issues and arguments) is to have a preliminary hearing. And the testimony will need to be recorded by a court reporter who will prepare a transcript of the testimony.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, contact Attorney Quinlan at 717 202-2277 or visit us online at harrisburgduiguy.com. Consultations are always free and we sincerely enjoy helping good people through tough times.

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