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Preliminary Hearing Related Questions

Does a defendant have to be at a preliminary hearing? What takes place at a preliminary hearing? A preliminary hearing is a defendant’s first experience with the legal system. They test the sufficiency of the prosecutor’s evidence in a case, and whether or not there is enough evidence to warrant a trial. If you are a defendant or a victim in a case and have questions regarding the attendance of a preliminary hearing, verified legal Experts can assist you.

Read below where verified Experts have answered these questions and more for defendants and their victims.

How much money should an individual have on hand for posting bail at a preliminary hearing?

The individual should take at least as much as the amount of the fine, and a few hundred extra. The bond will be a release bond and can be as much as the fine or less.

What happens if the victim of a domestic violence case does not show up for the preliminary hearing?

Case Details: Individual has no intention of pursuing the matter.

A preliminary hearing does not usually ask a victim to appear. If the victim is to appear, a subpoena will be sent by the judge or be delivered to the victim by the police department that is investigating the crime. Before the preliminary hearing begins, the victim will have the opportunity to speak with the police officer and or a representative from the prosecutor’s office.

What takes place at a preliminary hearing?

A judge listens to evidence presented by the prosecution and defense. The prosecution must present a prima facie case, or in other words, the prosecution must show enough evidence that a crime has been committed and that the defendant is most likely the person who committed the crime. The judge reviews whether or not there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed, and that the person standing in front of the court, is the one who committed the crime. The judge decides if there is enough evidence to send the case to Common Pleas Court. If the judge does not agree with the evidence, the charges are dismissed.

Can a defendant waive a preliminary hearing?

A defendant may choose to waive a preliminary hearing and the case will go directly to Common Pleas Court.

Is there a way to move a missed preliminary hearing back down to the magistrate?

Case Details: Due to a separation from spouse and pending divorce, mail was not given to individual, and individual missed hearing.

To send the case back down to the magistrate, an individual would need to file a Motion with the court to show good cause. In the Motion, the individual will need to explain to the court why individual did not receive the Notice, failed to appear, and that it was not individual’s fault. If the individual can convince the judge/court of this, then it may be sent back and reset for hearing. It would also be beneficial if the individual attached an Affidavit evidencing the same.

What happens if an arresting officer does not show up for a preliminary hearing?

There are many possibilities. The case could be dropped, but it could be brought back up again. A preliminary hearing is not a trial, so the 5th Amendment protection against double jeopardy doesn’t apply. The case could also be continued to a new hearing date to get the officer to testify. It’s also possible, depending on the circumstances and facts, that the case could be proven without the officer’s testimony if there are other witnesses who could testify.

In South Carolina, does a victim have to be at the preliminary hearing?

As a victim is not a party to the case, he or she does not have to be present. However, the victim is usually subpoenaed to testify as a witness at the preliminary hearing, and anyone who is subpoenaed to be there must be there as a subpoena is a court order. Even though most of the time a victim is subpoenaed to testify at the preliminary hearing, there are circumstances in which a victim might not be subpoenaed. One example, is if the defendant confessed to the crime, the prosecutor may just ask that the police officer testify about the confession.

As seen above, each year many individuals are parties to various lawsuits. Consulting with an attorney is not always convenient or affordable, and therefore, the next best option is to contact a legal Expert. If you have questions or specific needs regarding lawsuits or a preliminary hearing, an Expert can assist you.

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