What is a Preliminary Hearing?
Let's say you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and their case is in the Justice Court. The case is probably set for a preliminary hearing and you might be wondering what's next.
So, the preliminary hearing is set after the initial appearance. If a defendant is in custody, it must be held within 10 days. If the defendant is out of custody, it will be held in 20 days.
When a case is in the Justice Court, a criminal case, there has to be a determination of probable cause before the case is transferred to the Superior Court. So, this determination of probable cause can be made either by the Grand Jury or it can be made by the Justice Court.
The preliminary hearing itself is kind of like a mini-trial. The State has to put on witnesses to prove that there's probable cause that the offense was committed. Now, probable cause is a much lower standard than a criminal trial, proof beyond a reasonable doubt. So, there's a very low threshold that the State has to prove that the crime was committed.
Now, in Mohave County, most determinations of probable cause are made at the Grand Jury level. So, even though a Justice Court is required to set the case for a preliminary hearing, there may not be necessarily a preliminary hearing conducted. And, the preliminary hearing could be vacated if a super [inaudible 01:53] indictment is true billed by a Grand Jury, or there may be some other matters that occur at a preliminary hearing such as a change of plea for a misdemeanor or there could be a waiver or a preliminary hearing, maybe in exchange for an offer being held open in the Superior Court or maybe an agreement to reduce bail.
If you have a question about a criminal case, please pick up the phone and give my office a call. Let's find out if your case is something we can help you with. Call my office at 928-753-6868 or visit my website at HampLaw.com.