The criminal process in Pennsylvania can be intimidating, especially if you think you will have to represent yourself or go with the public defender. However, if you are facing a felony charge or a mixture of misdemeanor and felony charges you have an opportunity for a preliminary hearing. This hearing can be an extremely important part of your defense – as the outcome can be a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you.
Hiring a qualified West Chester criminal defense attorney just for this important Pennsylvania preliminary hearing could make a big difference in the charges you face and your case’s future in the courtroom – and it’s not nearly as expensive as hiring a lawyer for the full trial.
If you have been charged with a felony or a combination of related misdemeanor and felony offenses in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, or Lancaster County, it is important that you have strong representation for your preliminary hearing. Michael Skinner of Skinner Law firm has prosecution experience as a former assistant district attorney. He will use this experience to locate weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and built a point-for-point customized defense, having evidence thrown out if necessary.
The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine whether it is likely that a crime was committed and whether it is sufficiently likely that the accused committed it. The standard is “prima facie.” Prima facie means “on its face,” or, whether upon first encounter with the evidence and without delving into detail, that the alleged offense occurred and that the defendant committed it.
This does not mean “beyond reasonable doubt.” The prosecutor does not have to prove conclusively, at this hearing, that you are guilty of the crime. For instance, the evidence against you may be weak upon analysis. At the preliminary hearing, though, there is no true analysis. If the court determines prima facie evidence exists, it may hold the case over for the Court of Common Pleas, where you will face trial.
At the preliminary hearing, your West Chester criminal defense lawyer can question the prosecutor’s evidence and may be able to show that there’s not even a prima facie case. If the judge determines that there is not even a prima facie case, the court will discharge you and kick out the charges, saving you from enduring a long, painful and expensive trial.
If the court does decide that there is sufficient evidence to move forward with a trial in the Court of Common Pleas, you may decide to get a new defense lawyer or a public defender, or you may stick with the lawyer you have. After a preliminary hearing, your defense lawyer will have a better idea of the case against you and the state attorney’s angle in the case.
If you miss your preliminary hearing and the court finds that you were notified and had no good cause, it may take your absence as a waiver of your right to question the evidence and proceed without you. It may also issue a bench warrant for your arrest. In the case of an accidental no-show, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to show good cause and help increase your chances at rescheduling the hearing.
The results of the preliminary hearing could set the tone for how your case is handled in future court processes if it is not thrown out. If you are seeking a strong, skilled criminal defense attorney to handle your preliminary hearing, contact the experienced lawyers at Skinner Law Firm. Your first consultation is free, so call (610) 436-1410 today to schedule yours.