The beginning stage of most cases usually begins with a preliminary hearing. The entire point of a preliminary hearing is to find out if there is a good enough reason to feel as if the defendant actually committed the crime that was charged against them. Based on Jackson v. State, “The entire point of a commitment hearing is to find out if there is a good enough reason to see how the person being accused of the crime can be guilty of what they are being charged with, and if that’s the case, to give them over to get an indictment by the grand jury.” Other names for a preliminary hearing are “commitment hearing” or, “probable cause hearing.” The most important part is to see if the case is good enough to move forward or if it should be dismissed. The role of a preliminary hearing is to see if the evidence is good enough to allow it be heard by a jury or judge and allow them to decide if the accused is innocent or guilty at trial. A preliminary hearing doesn’t decide if the accused should be innocent or guilty of the crime.
Due to the probable cause obligation, it’s imperative that law enforcement has more than just a suspicion to have someone arrested, execute a search or to seize property that has something to do with the alleged crime. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is where the obligation originates from. In order for a case to continue to Superior or State, there must be a good enough probable cause. Preliminary hearings are heard at a Magistrate Court; still, no matter how urgent the crime may be, preliminary hearings can also be held in front of a judge at the Supreme Court. The defendant must show up to a preliminary hearing with a private counsel, an attorney that has been appointed by the court, or a public defender. Misdemeanor and felony cases can both be held at a preliminary hearing. It doesn’t matter if the defendant is out on bond or being held in custody to have a preliminary hearing. Preliminary hearings can decide if a bond should be set or not. Furthermore, after about ten to fourteen days after the defendant has been arrested, the preliminary hearing will usually occur.
Preliminary hearings can be intimidating if you have no understanding of the law or have never been charged with a criminal offense. Should you or your loved one have any questions, contact an attorney, like a criminal defense attorney in Atlanta, GA from The Lynch Law Group, as soon as possible.