If you have been charged with a major crime in South Carolina, you are entitled to a Preliminary Hearing. It is important for you to understand this process. Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney is here to help!
A Preliminary Hearing is a probable cause hearing conducted by a magistrate. The purpose of a Preliminary Hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to allow your case to be forwarded to General Sessions.
- Whether it is more likely than not that the crime occurred
- Whether or not the defendant committed the crime
At a Preliminary Hearing the judge uses a probable cause standard. This means that the State does not have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, the rules of evidence do not apply. This means that evidence can be submitted in the hearing that would normally be inadmissible in a trial.
No. Preliminary Hearings are not mandatory. You also do not have to appear even if a hearing is held.
To request a Preliminary Hearing, you or your attorney should request one from the court within 10 days of bond court.
During the hearing the State will usually be represented by a law enforcement witness who will offer testimony. Your defense counsel will be able to cross examine this witness.
No. During the Preliminary Hearing you do not have a right to testify or offer up your own witnesses. However, at the end of the hearing your attorney can make a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause.
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