Everyone makes mistakes, and some of those mistakes can lead to serious consequences. Particularly in cases of acts that impose upon the safety, comfort, or financial standing of others, parties may face criminal charges.
The trial process can be overwhelming and confusing; however, it is important that those facing charges try to understand the process. The trial begins with a preliminary hearing, which has a few different elements to consider.
As the name indicates, a preliminary hearing is a hearing that occurs before the trial begins. In fact, it is the first step in determining if a full trial is necessary. Both parties present their initial arguments and evidence, and get a chance to cross-examine any witnesses of the other party. At any time during the preliminary hearing, the parties may come to a plea deal, which would eliminate the need for a trial and usually decrease the sentence that the defendant faces.
Establishes the case
The prosecution must establish the basis of the case, or prima facie, during the preliminary hearing. To accomplish this, the prosecution must defend a few assertions, including:
- The crime did occur
- It is possible the defendant committed the crime
These elements are critical to the preliminary hearing process. If the prosecution is unable to convince the judge of these things, the judge could dismiss the case.
A preliminary hearing is an important part of any trial for a few different reasons. Not only does it establish the grounds for the claim, but it also allows both sides to see what they are up against. This is especially important for the defense. If the defense can create enough doubt surrounding the prosecution's evidence, it may be possible to strike a deal or get a dismissal of all charges.
This is a short introduction into the beginnings of the complex trial process. If you or a loved one face criminal charges, consult with a knowledgeable attorney to determine the best course of action.