Preliminary Hearing (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
A proceeding before a judicial officer in which the officer must decide whether a crime was committed, whether the crime occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, and whether there is PROBABLE CAUSE to believe that the defendant committed the crime.
After the police have arrested a crime suspect, the suspect is entitled to a preliminary hearing. Designed as a safeguard against unreasonable arrest and detention, the hearing is conducted to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to hold the defendant for trial. State and federal rules of CRIMINAL PROCEDURE provide for when a hearing must be held and what issues must be raised, which depend in large part on whether the crime is a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony.
The most common preliminary hearing is the initial appearance, which is also called the first appearance. Various procedural steps may be taken during the initial appearance. In minor misdemeanor cases, the initial appearance may be the only one, if the defendant pleads guilty. When the charge is more serious, the accused at the initial appearance may be informed of the charges, advised of the RIGHT TO COUNSEL and the right to remain silent, warned that any statement made may be used against the suspect in court,...
(The entire section is 765 words.)
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