Preliminary Hearings in California Felony Cases
This is the defense's first opportunity to attack the prosecution's case. The defense attorney gets the chance to cross-examine each of the prosecutor's witnesses under penalty of perjury.
This gives the defense a chance to lock the witnesses into their story and then go out and investigate what they claim and see if evidence can be established that shows the witness is not telling the truth or has exaggerated their testimony. An effective preliminary cross-examination can destroy the prosecutor's case or at least damage it enough to set up a successful future negotiation. However, it requires the services of an experienced defense lawyer.
In my experience, the prosecutors and judges (usually the former) try and rush through the preliminary hearing stage and do not allow the defense to gain any ground at this point in the proceedings. The best defense attorneys will fight tooth and nail against this abuse of the process.
Gathering Available Evidence on the Criminal Case
Another thing is that the prosecutor and judge will not permit the defense to gather all available evidence before conducting the preliminary hearing. This is a particular problem in the Los Angeles criminal court system.
I find myself battling this tendency and not conceding the prosecutor's attempts to hide evidence from the defense, or they are just simply too lazy to go and get it. A reasonable defense attorney must demand the evidence and turn over every possible lead to defend their client! During my years of practice as a preliminary hearing defense attorney in San Fernando Valley, CA, I ensure that I have access to all the evidence needed to defend my case.
Determining Whether There is Sufficient Evidence
If you have been arrested for a crime and have gone through the arraignment process, the next step is the preliminary hearing, often referred to as the prelim. The prelim is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to justify having you answer for the alleged charges. Make sure you have a defense lawyer on your side for the prelim.
The prelim is the answer to whether there is enough probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and if there is enough probable cause to believe that you, the defendant, are the person who committed the crime. As an experienced preliminary hearing defense attorney, I have provided services in LA County, Encino CA, Burbank CA, Van Nuys CA, and San Fernando Valley.
The burden of proof is on the prosecution to show probable cause. The trial must just show probable cause at the prelim, and then during the jury trial, the prosecution must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As a defendant, you have legal rights to make sure you exercise as your criminal defense attorney. For one, you have a legal right to an attorney, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, the right to produce defense witnesses, the right to be free from physical restraint. Exercise your rights and contact a preliminary hearing defense attorney.
If the judge makes a factual finding that there is no probable cause to have a trial, the result is binding on the prosecutor. The prosecution may re-file another complaint or file a motion to reinstate the dismissed counts. Legal findings are not binding, and the prosecution may choose to re-file.
The judge may also decide to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor during a prelim. We play a massive part in this and do everything to get charges dismissed and reduced.
Retain a Los Angeles Criminal Attorney
If the judge finds probable cause as to the charges during the prelim, we do not quit! We can file a motion called 995 motions which is another challenge to probable cause. In response to a 995 motion, the prosecution must prove each element of the crime being charged.
If you face a crime, we have the necessary experience, skill, and knowledge to effectively and competently represent you. Contact us for a face-to-face consultation with a preliminary hearing defense lawyer, and we will discuss everything further in detail.