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What is a "Held to answer" hearing after the preliminary is over with?

Fresno, CA |

What are the chain of events that usually follow a preliminary hearing where a defendant is found to have probably committed said felony?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. Defendants are not found to have "probably" committed felonies at preliminary hearings. All that happens is that a magistrate judge either finds or does not find sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial. The standard for finding this is extremely low - much lower than the standard of proof for a conviction. That's why most defendants are "held to answer" the charges at trial.

    If you, specifically, have been held to answer after a preliminary hearing, you should discuss with your attorney what the next steps will be in your specific case.

    The response above is not intended as legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship. Legal questions can only be fully answered through consultation with an attorney to whom you give full and accurate details. Anything you post here is not confidential and is not protected by the attorney-client relationship. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting.

  2. I agree with my colleague regarding the low standard of proof to be bound over for trial. To the question of the events following a preliminary hearing, if the judge acting as magistrate finds that there is sufficient evidence produced by the DA for a jury to decide the case, then, the next step is an arraignment on what is called an "information." It is like the complaint that was originally filed but with the charges the defendant was held to answer on. At the arraignment, the defendant typically enters a "not guilty" plea and the case is set for a jury trial. Typically there are a few court dates set prior to the jury trial depending on the type of case and there may be various motions to set aside the information, dismiss, discovery, etc. Also, there may be some type of plea agreement reached before the trial starts. If not, then there is a jury trial. If the defendant is found not guilty, that is the end of the case. If the defendant is found guilty, then there may be more defense motions as well as a sentencing hearing. Then after sentencing, there may be appeals that the defendant files. Bottom line is there could be various "chain of events" following a prelim.

  3. If held to answer after a prelim, the complaint is deemed an information, and an arraignment on the information is held, either immediately, or a future date. An additional readiness conference and trial date are set. Each court has slightly different procedures, with motion-cutoff dates and other procedural dates, but those are the basic procedures.

    Good luck with the case,


  4. This sounds like a school assignment, but...

    If the magistrate finds probable cause to believe the charges have been committed, the defendant is ordered to appear to be arranged on and get information (that's the charging document filed by the prosecution after the preliminary hearing). If the defendant does not otherwise resolve this case, he has a right to a trial within 60 calendar days after being arraigned on the information. In between the arraignment on the information and the trial date, there can be motion to suppress evidence, a 995 motion to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence at preliminary hearing for other motions.

    The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case.

  5. "Held to answer" means that the judge made a determination that there was sufficient evidence to warrant the felony charges. The standard is probable cause and it's very unusual for a case not to survive the preliminary hearing. There's a joke among criminal defense attorneys that if the prosecutor manages to find the courtroom in which the prelim is being heard, he's pretty much done. Why? The arresting officer already made a determination that a felony was committed and the prosecutor agreed with that assessment by commencing prosecution. There are times when the officer(s) and prosecutor both get it wrong, but it doesn't happen too often.

    Anyway, after the preliminary hearing the complaint on which defendant was initially arraigned turns into what is called an "Information." The defendant is then arraigned on the Information. The case is then assigned to a trial judge for all purposes. From there, defendant has the option of filing various motions, including 995 motion to dismiss, 1538.5 motion to suppress, Pitchess motion, Franks motion, etc. There are many pre-trial motions available to the defendant, but those are some of the more common ones.

    From there, assuming defendant is unable to get the case dismissed, he/she then has an option of either plea bargaining or going to trial.

    The response above is not intended as legal advice. This response is for educational purposes only. I have not met with you and I am not knowledgeable about the specific details of your case. Each case is unique and different. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you contact and meet with a licensed criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific circumstances. In addition, an attorney-client relationship is not created by virtue of this response.

  6. Held to anwser means the judge found enough evidence against the defendant to allow the DA to proceed with prosecuting him in trial. Perhaps you should contact a Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney. What is the case about?


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