Preliminary Hearing

A Preliminary Hearing must be set within 10 days of the Initial Appearance if the defendant is being held, or 20 days if the defendant has been released.

If a defendant was not indicted by a grand jury, then the defendant has a right to a Preliminary Hearing unless a Trial Information is filed or the Preliminary Hearing is waived.

If from the evidence it appears that there is probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and that the defendant committed it, the magistrate shall order the defendant to attend further proceedings. The State is allowed to use hearsay evidence at this hearing, and the required probable cause must be based on “substantial evidence.” The defendant may cross-examine witnesses and may introduce evidence on the defendant’s own behalf, including the defendant’s own witnesses.

Generally, defendants have their attorneys chosen prior to the preliminary hearing. Once an attorney is hired or appointed, he will file his Appearance, letting the judge know that the defendant has found a lawyer.

Usually, the preliminary hearing is waived and the State files a Trial Information.