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How many times can a preliminary trial be scheduled before being thrown out? And how long does it take to schedule a new one?

Philadelphia, PA |

Is there a time frame in order for the defendant to get out? How long will they sit in jail for? Is it normal for judges to skip two months for a new hearing? How do they determine a rescheduled preliminary trial?

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Attorney answers 3


I think you mean preliminary hearing and not preliminary trial. How many times is a tough question. In Philly it could be a LOT of times they are notorious for that. The defendant should have an attorney representing them who can ask the court to mark the file "must be tried" at the next continuance. The defendant can sit in jail for upto 180 days and then should be eligible for nominal bail. A two month contiuance while a long time is not unheard of. Cases are rescheduled by the Magesterial Disctrct Court Clerk or Court Admin if its in Philly.

Hopefully the defendant has an attorney if not he or she needs one ASAP

This information does not create an attorney /client relationship and should not be use or relied upon to make any decision in your case. Only consultation with your own attorney can provide you with the advice you need for your case.


It can often take a while in Philadelphia county. The Judge's schedules are often backed up. There is no set number of times and there are many factors to be considered. You should discuss this with your attorney and if you do not have one you should look for one. Contact an attorney for a free consultation to discuss specifics.

Michael L. Doyle
Attorney at Law
(215) 900-5565


In Philadelphia there is an unwritten rule that the DA usually gets 3 chances to get their case ready for a preliminary hearing. If the DA is not ready at the first 2 listings of your preliminary hearing and the defense is ready, the defense attorney should always ask that the case be marked "Must be Tried Commonwealth" for the 3rd lisitng. Absent some unusual circumstances (ie. necessary witness is still in hospital as a result of incident, police officer is still out because they were IOD - "injured on duty" - because of this arrest, etc.), the judge will usually grant the defense request and mark the case "Must be Tried Commonwealth". Therefore, if the DA is not ready at the 3rd listing the judge will either dismiss the case or the DA will withdraw the charges.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia has very busy criminal dockets and therefore a case can take 4-6 months to have 3 preliminary hearing listings. So, if you or a loved one is locked up on bail through the preliminary hearing, you may want to seek a bail reduction. You have two chances to do so. First, you can ask the Municipal Court judge to reduce bail. And, if the MC judge won't reduce bail, you can appeal the MC judge's decision to a higher judge. You should always tell your lawyers about your background - age, prior record, employment history, family situation, number of children, educational background, military service, physical or mental health concerns and where you would live if released. Your lawyer can use these positive attributes about your personal life to get you a bail reduction.

I highly recommend you hire a lawyer if you can afford one to address all of these issues and help you resolve the case in the best manner possibile.

Brian Fishman
Philadelphia, PA

The posting of an answer to this question in no way creates an attorney-client relationship between myself and any reader. I always suggest you contact and hire a lawyer to receive legal advice.

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