Question: My son was arrested and charged with attempted murder in Philadelphia. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week. What is a preliminary hearing? Does he need to hire a criminal defense lawyer for the preliminary hearing or can he represent himself? What happens after a preliminary hearing?
Answer by a Top Rated Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer
A preliminary hearing is an important hearing in the criminal legal system, and it is best to have a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer at the hearing.
What is a Preliminary Hearing?
At a preliminary hearing, the court decides whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial. In your son’s case, the court will decide whether there is enough evidence to continue with an attempted murder trial.
In a preliminary hearing, the district attorney’s office has to prove a prima facie case. This means that if the prosecution can show that a crime occurred and that it is likely that the defendant committed the crime, the case will proceed to trial. This burden is much lower than the prosecution’s burden at trial, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.
The prosecution will present evidence including witnesses to establish a prima facie case. If the prosecution cannot establish a prima facie case, then charges can be dismissed. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer present to call into question any evidence against the defendant and convince the judge that the prosecutor’s case is not strong enough to proceed to trial.
It is important to note that even if the court finds that the case should proceed to trial, it does not mean that your son is guilty. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is not determining your son’s guilt or innocence. Rather, it is to establish if the case can proceed to trial.
During a preliminary hearing, a defense lawyer can start to build a defense for trial. The lawyer can cross examine the prosecution’s witnesses and later use this testimony to rebut any subsequent, inconsistent testimony at trial.
As I mentioned earlier, the preliminary hearing is one of the initial stages in a criminal prosecution. Before trial, motions may be filed by defense lawyers which may result in the case being dismissed.
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