Preliminary Hearing and beyond: What You Can Expect

It’s always a good idea to have a criminal defense attorney represent you at a preliminary hearing.

It’s always a good idea to have a criminal defense attorney represent you at a preliminary hearing.

Before you proceed to a trial in front of a jury the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you should know that you are constitutionally guaranteed to have a preliminary hearing and you should hire a criminal defense lawyer prior to the preliminary hearing.

Here’s What To Expect At The Preliminary Hearing

At the preliminary hearing, the Prosecutor must present evidence to the Magistrate to prove that (1) a crime was committed and (2) you were responsible.  

The standard of proof at the preliminary hearing is by a preponderance of evidence — meaning that something was more likely than not. If the Magistrate finds there’s sufficient evidence he will hold the case over for a jury trial at the court of common pleas.

If the judge finds the evidence lacking he could dismiss the case completely or dismiss some charges and allow the case to proceed.

Here’s What To Expect At A Suppression Hearing

A suppression hearing is a court appearance where both sides can argue about whether the evidence against a defendant should be thrown out because the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated. It’s instituted by your defense attorney filing a Motion to Suppress the evidence.  

Evidence being suppressed means that it can no longer be used at trial and often times this is devastating to the Prosecution’s case. The Prosecution begins the hearing with testimony that explains why the evidence should be allowed.

This is another chance for a criminal defense lawyer to be able to question the witnesses before trial. In addition, the defense attorney gets to put on evidence of its own explaining why the evidence should be suppressed.

Typical motions to suppress include:

  • Physical evidence illegally obtained by the police through an illegal search
  • Identifications by show-up or line-up or photo line-ups or
  • Suppression of statements of the accused taken by the police
  • After the hearing, the case proceeds to trial

When your case is put on the trial list, it’s expected that your case will proceed to a full trial and the court will take steps to secure a jury panel to hear your case.

At the time of trial, the Commonwealth must prove that you are guilty of the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

You would not be required to present any evidence or to testify but you have the right to do both if you wish. All 12 jurors would have to agree that you are either guilty or not guilty.

Here’s What To Expect At A Sentencing Hearing

If your case ends with a conviction, either due to a guilty plea or a finding of guilt after trial, the next step will be a sentencing hearing.

  • If you have pled guilty, the sentencing hearing can either take place on the day of the plea or on a subsequent date.
  • At your sentencing hearing you, or your attorney, will be permitted to present arguments for the sentence that you feel is warranted based on your criminal offense.
  • Often times, this is your chance to explain why the crime was committed, how you plan on rehabilitating yourself and apologize for your conduct in hopes that you receive a lighter sentence.

Allow the Shelton Firm to represent you today.  Hire our criminal defense attorney to fight those charges and make sure you get the best outcome possible.  The firm represents clients in all phases of a criminal matter and we make sure you get the best possible outcome. Call us today at 717-823-0899.

Please feel free to contact The Shelton Firm today and request a free consultation.  The Shelton Firm is a criminal defense law firm representing clients in Lancaster County, Lebanon County, Chester County, York County, and Berks County.

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