Preliminary Hearing in Pennsylvania
What happens at a preliminary hearing?
What is a preliminary hearingA preliminary hearing is an early stage in a criminal proceeding. At the preliminary hearing, the Commonwealth presents what's called a prima facie case. This means that they have to provide the Magistrate Judge with the bare bones of the case to show that a crime was committed and the person charged is probably the perpetrator.
Do I need an attorney at the preliminary hearing?Yes. This is an essential stage in the criminal proceeding where an experienced attorney can challenge the evidence presented by the Commonwealth's Attorney. Additionally, this is a great time to learn more information about the evidence the prosecution intends to present at trial.
Magistrate findings at end of the preliminary hearingAt the conclusion of the Preliminary Hearing, the Magistrate will determine if the Commonwealth's Attorney has provided enough information for the case to be bound over to the Court of Common Pleas. When a case is bound over, it means the criminal charges filed against the defendant will proceed to the next stage. If the evidence is found to be insufficient, the Magistrate shall discharge the defendant.