The Criminal Defense Process Part 7 – What is Preliminary Examination?
In this video, we are going to be talking about a preliminary examination, or it is commonly known as the preliminary hearing, in the context of a felony criminal defense case. Now the preliminary hearing is what most people consider, other than the first bond appearance, their first appearance the real first meaningful hearing in their case. This is where they are going to hear evidence against them, they are going to get an idea of kind of how their case is going out aside from what is just on paper. Now, what the preliminary hearing is, is it is basically a mini trial. It is a time in which the state has to meet a low burden in front of a judge for a threshold of evidence to show a judge a couple of things: one, that a crime has been committed and two, the defendant is the one who committed the crime. Now they do not have to show a high burden of proof like beyond a reasonable doubt like they would at trial, they only have to show that probably cause exists, so it is a low burden. Most people are bound over on preliminary examinations. Now what bound over is, is a term that lawyers use that just allows the case to go forward. In other words, the judge says “I believe that probable cause exists that a crime has been committed and that the defendant committed the crime. Just a low burden of proof has been established and I am going to allow the case to continue.” Now, just because a person is bound over after a preliminary hearing does not mean that they have lost their case, it does not mean that they are going to jail, it does not mean anything like that, it just means that the judge has allowed their case to go forward. Now, many people will say that since it is such a low burden of proof at the preliminary examination, “Why do I want to do it?” Well, for your criminal defense lawyer, the preliminary examination is invaluable. Your criminal defense lawyer gets a chance to cross-examine the witnesses, gets the chance to view the witnesses, they have to show up to court so your lawyer gets some insight on their willingness to cooperate with the police or state in this case, and the lawyer gets an insight to see how they perform on the witness stand. It can be a good time for your lawyer to ask them questions and flush out the answers so that they understand the case better. It can be used as a very good tool for discovery. For more information on the next step in the criminal defense process for filing motions, please watch our next video.