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UNDERSTANDING THE CRIMINAL PROCESS
Preliminary Hearing
Preliminary hearings only occur in felony cases.

The purpose of the preliminary hearing is for the judge to determine whether or not there is probable cause to send a case to Superior Court for trial. Probable cause is usually very simple for the prosecution to prove, because their burden of proof is quite low.

We use the preliminary hearing to flush out the prosecution's case and to lock in their witnesses testimony in preparation for trial.

At the preliminary hearing, the District Attorney may add additional charges and may attempt to remand the defendant back into custody, even if he is currently out on bail.

Indictment by a Grand Jury is an alternative to the preliminary hearing, to be used at the sole discretion of the prosecuting attorney. Grand Juries are often used in Federal Court, and many states also choose to use them for felony hearings. Some states, such as California, rarely use Grand Juries.




THE CRIMINAL PROCESS
THE BASICS
THE CASE
THE COURTS

IMPORTANT!
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PRE-FILE ALERT:
Don't Wait Until You Are Arrested!

If you even suspect that you may be charged with a crime, speak to an attorney now!

Very often before formal charges are filed, there is an investigation. Law enforcement tries to gather as much evidence as possible to build their case against you. This is the pre-file stage of a case.

This pre-file period can be the most crucial stage of a criminal case. Since you haven't been arrested, you don't have any Miranda Rights. This is when most people fall into law enforcement traps designed to destroy their legal case.

Learn more

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APPEALS ALERT!
Blakely v. Washington May
Give You a Second Chance

If you or someone you know was sentenced after 1998 (if the conviction was appealed) or 2000 (if there was no appeal), the new United States Supreme Court decision in Blakely vs. Washington may provide a second change to review your sentence!

WHAT TO DO IF ...
If Arrested
If Accused or Under Investigation
Members: NACDL and ABA
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