A preliminary hearing is a short court proceeding that can be conducted or waived by the defendant when there are no contested facts in a criminal case. In some jurisdictions, such as South Carolina, it can also be an opportunity for either side to share information with the judge before trial. Contested preliminary hearings require additional time and preparation.
In simple terms, a preliminary hearing is a hearing that determines the legal admissibility of evidence before trial. It is called a “preliminary” hearing because it does not concern itself with the case’s merits.
The United States has a system of federal, state, and local courts that have different degrees of authority and independence from each other.
What’s the Purpose of a Preliminary Hearing in South Carolina?
Preliminary hearings are conducted in order to determine whether there is enough evidence against a defendant to bring the case to trial. When the defendant files a motion for a preliminary hearing, it is often held only after the defendant has been arrested. The judge will then meet with counsel and other court staff to review the facts of the case.
The court may decide whether there are “enough” facts to proceed with the trial based on the testimony provided during these proceedings. The decision to hold a preliminary hearing is usually at the judge’s discretion. Still, in some cases, a defendant may be forced to provide evidence that can be used against them in the trial.
What are the Chances of Winning at a Preliminary Hearing?
Although it’s not uncommon to find a defendant “guilty” at a preliminary hearing, this is not always the case. In some cases, the judge may consider the defendant’s right to a fair trial and decide whether or not there is enough evidence to warrant a trial. Essentially, the judge will determine whether or not there are enough facts to release the defendant on bail or continue their incarceration.
What are the Benefits of Requesting a Preliminary Hearing?
Preliminary hearings are held in order to determine whether there is enough evidence to bring the case to trial. Often, defendants will prefer the preliminary hearing because the outcome of this proceeding will help the defendant determine whether or not their case should proceed to trial. Although it may seem as if a preliminary hearing is a “waste of time,” going forward at this early stage of the proceedings, a defendant can often avoid being convicted on improper evidence.
In addition, a defendant may have a preliminary hearing to take the opportunity to tell their side of the story. Since most defendants cannot present evidence until trial, the preliminary hearing is the perfect opportunity for them to share information about the crime.
The defendant is allowed to bring forth any evidence (with some exceptions) that they choose in an attempt to prove their innocence.
Find Criminal Defense Attorneys in South Carolina
If you are arrested in South Carolina, it is important to speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Representing yourself in court is never a good idea, especially when your freedom is at stake. You will want to find an attorney who will make all the necessary arrangements for your defense and present witnesses during the preliminary hearing if necessary.