The Criminal Process: Preliminary Examination

A defendant has a right to a Preliminary Examination within 14 days of the Arraignment of a felony.  This 14-day-rule can be waived by Defendant so that Defendant may have his/her Preliminary Examination beyond the 14 days of the Arraignment.

A Preliminary Examination is a contested hearing, sometimes called a “probable cause hearing.”  At this hearing, Prosecutor must present witnesses to prove that there is probable cause to believe that the charged crime(s) was (were) committed and that Defendant committed the crime(s).  Due to this low burden of proof, Prosecutor generally does not call all witnesses to testify at the Preliminary Examination that he/she would call at a trial.  He/She calls just enough to satisfy this lower burden.  At the Preliminary Examination, Defendant, through his attorney, may cross-examine Prosecutor’s witnesses and present his/her own evidence (including witnesses).

If probable cause is established, Defendant is “bound over” (transferred) to Circuit Court on the charged crime(s) for further proceedings.  If probable cause is not established that Defendant committed the charged crime(s), Judge can bind the case over on different charges, can reduce the charges to misdemeanors for trial in District Court, or can dismiss the charges altogether.

Defendant always maintains the right to “waive” his/her right to a Preliminary Examination.  This is different than waiving one’s 14-day-rule.  If Defendant does waive his/her right to a Preliminary Examination, he/she would automatically be “bound over” to Circuit Court without any probable cause hearing.

Some of the other important purposes of a Preliminary Examination include setting the amount of bond Defendant will have to post if held for trial, the receipt of valuable evidence and information regarding the witnesses’ credibility, and the preservation of testimony in the event a witness disappears or dies prior to trial.

If you have been charged with a crime please contact Aida Spahic at  (248) 624- 5500 or at aida@ambroselawgroup.com.

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Filed under Aida Spahic, The Criminal Process

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