At the preliminary hearing, since facts of the case will be discussed and possibly even heard by the court
, the defendant cannot waive their presence, especially since any deals made would require explaination to and consent of the defendant. The criminal setting is just where the case is set on a docket and no real facts of the case are discussed so this is why the presence of the defendant can be waived. In rare instances, the court for medical reasons or sufficient good cause can waive the appearance of the defendant at a preliminary hearing, but this really requires some extenuating circumstances more than the distance of travel to the court.
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