All defendants accused of Felonies are entitled to a Preliminary Hearing within 10 days of their initial appearance if they are in custody and within 20 days of the initial appearance if they are out of custody. At this hearing, the prosecutor will call witnesses such as the investigating officer and possibly the Victim. This hearing is only before a judge and does not take as long as a trial. The defendant’s attorney will cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses. At the end of the hearing, the judge will decide whether there is probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and that the defendant committed it.

Probable Cause

Probable cause exists when a reasonable person given the evidence would believe that a crime has been committed and that the accused person committed it. If the judge finds probable cause at the preliminary hearing, the case will proceed to arraignment within 10 days. The judge may review release conditions at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing.

No Probable Cause

If the judge at the preliminary hearing finds no probable cause, the case is dismissed, and the defendant is released. Charges may be re-filed if new evidence comes forward in the future.