A guide to help you be better informed when discussing the potential waiver of your preliminary hearing with your attorney.
To Waive or Not to Waive?
If you are asking yourself this question and you aren't represented by an attorney, stop reading and go consult a criminal defense attorney before you make your decision. Most attorneys give free initial consultations. It's ok. This article will be here when you get back. Hopefully, you've already consulted a few attorneys and are just doing some research so you are better informed of what is to come. In any event, I hope this information will provide you with some of the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision about your preliminary hearing and better enable you to discuss this matter with an attorney. Your informed participation with your attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Don't let the light-hearted tone of this article detract from how serious this hearing actually is. However, just because you face a daunting decision ahead of you, doesn't mean you have nothing to do but sit around and worry about it. Hire an attorney and place that burden on them. After all, that's what we're here for.
Preliminary Information About Your Preliminary Hearing
Don't let the word "preliminary" fool you. Your preliminary hearing is a very important matter. This is not something that should be easily dismissed or carelessly given up. Waiving your preliminary hearing should only be done after consulting with a criminal defense attorney.The preliminary hearing is an important part of the process because the prosecution must prove what is called a "prima facie" case. That is lawyer talk for the prosecution having to prove that a crime was committed and you are likely the one who committed that crime. Having an attorney at this stage can be beneficial because if the prosecution cannot prove that you are the one who likely committed the crimes that were allegedly committed, some or all of the charges can be dismissed. You should consult with an attorney immediately to protect your rights.
Let's Take a Look, Shall We?
The preliminary hearing provides the defense with their first opportunity to look at what evidence the prosecution has in the case and for the defense attorney to get an idea of what theory the prosecution intends to pursue.
Why Would You Do Such A Thing?
Now don't get me wrong, waiving your preliminary can also be potentially beneficial if it is done for strategic reasons and upon advice of a defense attorney. Some of the potential benefits include: A. Get Out of Jail - Waiving this hearing may provide different manageable variations of bail to be arranged which allow you to participate in the preparation of your defense with your attorney. That way, you can get back to living your life on the outside while you await your trial. B. Reduced Charges - Waiving this hearing could potentially get you lesser charges. Prosecutors have broad discretion to modify the charges that you face. C. Plea bargains - Waiving your preliminary hearing could lead to better plea bargains being offered than if you had proceeded with the preliminary hearing. D. Special Programs - Depending on the charges you are facing, you may be eligible for certain first-time offender programs. A condition of admission to these programs is usually a waiver of your preliminary hearing. However, make no mistake; there is a calculated risk involved which should only be undertaken with the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The preliminary hearing forces the prosecution to provide evidence that a crime was in fact committed and that you are likely the person who committed that crime. This hearing not only forces the prosecution to gather and present the evidence at this hearing, but also to analyze that evidence and the case as a whole. As a lawyer, the prosecutor, upon further evaluation, may determine that there is insufficient evidence to proceed with the charges as charged by the police. This may lead to a modification of the charges or a determination not to prosecute you altogether. This "theory" is necessary to be discovered early because it provides the defense attorney the knowledge necessary to develop their own theory of the case in order to show deficiencies in the prosecution's case, gather physical evidence and witnesses to discredit those of the prosecution, and prepare a potential alibi or other defense.
Where Do You Go From Here?
By now I hope you've realized how beneficial a defense attorney will be to you during this whole ordeal. Armed with your new-found knowledge of the preliminary hearing process, the lawyer you have hired should be in awe of your contribution toward preparing your defense and should be able to face this hearing head on to fight for your rights and achieve the best outcome possible. I wish you both the best of luck in obtaining a successful resolution to your case.
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