Can you be a "Witness Of Character" at a Preliminary Hearing?

Asked over 1 year ago - Marcus Hook, PA

My boyfriend caught a new case while on probation. His P.O said I could be a "Witness Of Character" but someone else said I couldn't because its just a preliminary hearing. I really don't understand the legal system. So when he gets arrested and see the judge and he gets bail "which couldn't happen because of a detainer". What does he go to court for the first time? Is it to get sentenced? After he couldn't make bail, he got a court date for next week.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. William A. Jones Jr.

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . I agree with the remarks of my learned colleagues from the eastern part of the state. I write separately in an attempt to provide you with some addition understanding of the situation faced by your boyfriend. I'm unable to account for the information that you received from his PO about being a "Witness of Character". Unless you were a witness to some aspect of the new charges, the only circumstances in which you could theoretically be a witness for him would only occur during a trial or sentencing on the new case or during the sentencing phase of a violation hearing on the probation case. All of those potential scenarios are well down the road. At the moment he is faced with a preliminary hearing on the new case to be conducted by a magistrate. What has been said already about the preliminary hearing is entirely correct, but I'm going to describe a bit differently in the hopes of adding to your understanding. A preliminary hearing can be likened to a test, and the magistrate acts as the professor grading the test. The test is graded on a pass/fail basis, and the only party to the case who is taking the test is the Commonwealth (DA's Office and Police). If the Commonwealth presents sufficient evidence to indicate his involvement in one or more of the charges filed, the magistrate will hold those charges over for final disposition by the Court of Common Pleas located in the Delaware County Court House in Media. If the Commonwealth fails to satisfy the magistrate with its evidence the charges, or some of them, will be dismissed. If any charges survive the preliminary hearing, your boyfriend's guilt or innocence on those will be determined in a courtroom in Media in the future. The level of proof required to "pass" the test is quite low and I advise all my clients expect the case to continue on to the court house if there is a preliminary hearing. In spite of the inevitability of the test results at the magistrate's office, the preliminary hearing is a vitally important first step in the defense of any criminal case, and importance of having a good criminal attorney representing him at this hearing can not be overstated. If he can not afford counsel of his own choosing he needs to apply for the services of the Delaware Co. Public Defender's Office. His other problem, and the one preventing his release from the jail, is his status on probation. His new arrest has resulted in a "detainer" being lodged against him which in turn means he will remain in jail until his new case is finally concluded and the probation violation process has come to an end or when a judge in Delaware Co. signs an order lifting the detainer to allow his release before. Depending on many factors including the nature of the charges for which he is on probation and those contained in the new case, he faces the potential of jail/prison time on either or both matters. He very much needs the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney, and he needs that help as soon as possible. Good luck.

  2. Robert C. Keller

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . Character evidence is not relevant at a preliminary hearing and therefore not admissible.

  3. Lidia L. Alperovich

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Basically, the purpose of the preliminary hearing is two-fold: 1/ a chance for the accused to see the Commonwealth's case before trial; 2/ for the district judge to see if there is enough probable cause to transfer the case to the court of common pleas. The accused do not need to present any evidence and I think your testimony will be important later on

  4. Michael Lawrence Doyle

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It would be considered irrelevant. The Judge does not make a determination of fact based upon "beyond a reasonable doubt." He or she determines whether, if taking everything the commonwealth presents is fact, it constitutes the crimes alleged. This standard is very low. Defense evidence is not really considered.

    Michael L. Doyle
    (215) 900-5565

    This is not intended as individual legal advice and there is no attorney client relationship established by this... more

Related Topics

Criminal charges

Criminal charges are formal accusations in court that someone has committed a crime. Criminal charges have many classifications and degrees of severity.

Daniel P. Hilf

Driving While License Suspended

Driving While License Suspended or Revoked in Michigan is a misdemeanor offense (according to MCL 257.904(3)(a)) that carries a maximum potential jail sentence of up to 93 days, and/or a... more

Arrest for criminal charges

Arrest is when a law enforcement officer takes you into custody, typically to jail. Officers must have a warrant or probable cause in order to arrest you.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.

 

Ask now

31,410 answers this week

3,436 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

31,410 answers this week

3,436 attorneys answering