The preliminary hearing is a very important stage in the criminal proceedings as it is the first opportunity an accused will have to provide a defense and question the evidence against. The preliminary hearing is once again held in front of a magistrate, district justice, or other member of the minor judiciary. Often times this is the first proceeding where the district attorney is present as well. The Commonwealth must provide enough evidence to convince the magistrate that the case should be held over for trial. The Commonwealth does not have the same burden of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ like it has at trial. Instead, the Commonwealth must show a prima facie case of the defendant’s guilt. A prima facie showing is similar to the civil court standard of more than 50% more likely. In other words, the prosecutor must demonstrate that it is more probable than not that the accused committed the crime.
If the issuing authority determines that the Commonwealth has established a prima facie case of the defendant’s guilt, the issuing authority shall hold the defendant for court. Otherwise, the complaint will be dismissed and the defendant shall be discharged. The preliminary hearing is another opportunity for the issuing authority to act as a bail authority and can set bail if the defendant did not have a preliminary arraignment or if bail was previously set, the issuing authority may continue or modify the existing bail order. The preliminary hearing is an important time for your attorney from Seelinger Law to be present to provide defenses and speak with the prosecutor and police about negotiations and possible settlement. This stage may result in a dismissal or reduction in charges. For example, Rebeka Seelinger was able to negotiate with a prosecutor to reduce a felony drug charge where the client was looking at possible imprisonment, to a summary
The preliminary hearing is an important stage of the process as charges can be changed or dropped at this point. Make sure to call Seelinger Law today where we can provide an Attorney who will fight for your interests.
5148 Peach Street, Suite 330
Erie, PA 16509
847 N. Main Street, Suite 003B
Meadville, PA 16335
4981 McKnight Road #101548
Pittsburgh, PA 15237