I Have Been Charged With A Crime In Pennsylvania And Been Scheduled For A Preliminary Hearing What Is Going To Happen?

July 24, 2017By Brian Manchester

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense in Pennsylvania that is a misdemeanor or felony you will be scheduled for a Preliminary Hearing. This is the first step in the criminal justice system in Pennsylvania. Depending on the crimes charged you may have already been through a Preliminary Arraignment; if not this will be part of your Preliminary hearing. Everyone who has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in the state of Pennsylvania will have some type of bail set against them to ensure their cooperation with the criminal justice system. Bail will be set at your Preliminary Arraignment, this may have been done at the time in which you were arrested.

The preliminary hearing is the first time that you have the opportunity to challenge the evidence in which the police are claiming against you. The preliminary hearing allows the defendant to force the prosecution to put witnesses on the stand to testify. In addition, the defendant can cross-examine the witnesses and present their own evidence in your defense.

The burden is on the Commonwealth to show what is known as a prima facie case. A prima facie case consists of evidence read in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth that sufficiently establishes both the commission of a crime and that the defendant or accused is probably the perpetrator of that crime. To say that in non-legal terms, the Commonwealth must prove, by presenting evidence that if accepted as true establish, sufficient probable cause such that the Defendant committed the offense. They just have to show evidence that you likely committed this offense; not that you’re guilty, but that you are linked to these offenses. Ultimately, there are two takeaways necessary for understanding the prima facie burden of proof that the commonwealth must need at the preliminary hearing.

First, the prosecution must establish some evidence that the crime was committed and that the defendant committed it.

Second, the evidence presented must be accepted as true by the magistrate judge, which means that credibility of witnesses is not at issue at this stage. However, the magistrate is not determining your guilt or innocence at this period.

It is extremely important to contact an experienced law firm right away if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania. If you, your son, daughter, or loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation. Here at Manchester and Associates, we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a free consultation we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: Court Procedure

Tags: crime, Crime In Pennsylvania, Criminal Defense, Preliminary Hearing,

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About the Author

Brian Manchester is the owner of Manchester and Associates in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. His law firm practices DUI and Criminal Defense exclusively throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania in both state and federal court. He has a team of two other lawyers with a combined 50 years of trial and courtroom experience are also trained in science and many other skills that are relevant to criminal defense to include the psychology of persuasion as well. One of his associates is a former District Attorney (chief prosecutor) in central Pennsylvania.   Mr. Manchester and his team routinely handle serious felony cases including murder, manslaughter, sex crimes, complex financial crimes, and serious assaults. A large part of Mr. Manchester’s practice is the defense of alcohol and drug-based DUI offenses as well as drug cases using science and analytical chemistry. Mr. Manchester has training as a Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Instructor. He is one of a handful of Certified Lawyer-Scientists as recognized by the American Chemical Society in the United States. He is a member of NCDD and is a Founding Member of DUIDLA. He is also a member of the American Chemical Society with over 170,000 members across the world. To date, he is the only practicing criminal defense lawyer to belong to the Society of Forensic Toxicologist where he is an Associate Member. Mr. Manchester speaks nationally on the topic of blood and drug testing for alcohol as well as the metrological (measurement uncertainty) in forensic testing.

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  • “Mr. Manchester is the lawyer I would hire if accused of DWI. He is concerned for his clients and aggressively defends their cases. He has completed the most rigorous training to be one of the best DWI lawyers in the State. His determination and knowledge will serve you well when he is your attorney.”
  • “I endorse this lawyer. Mr. Manchester is well versed with the evidential pitfalls of hospital blood testing. With this knowledge, he has been able to effectively represent those accused of alcohol related offenses. Recently, Mr. Manchester has provided me with assistance on a complex blood analysis case.”
  • “I am both surprised and proud to be one of the first lawyers to highly recommend Brian as a criminal defense and DUI lawyer. Brian’s knowledge of criminal defense, and especially in the area of DUI, is unmatched. Not only does Brian possess a great working knowledge of the law, he has also dedicated himself to the underlying science necessary to successfully defend DUI and criminal cases involving blood test results. Brian is committed to excellence and receives my recommendation without reservation to those looking for a knowledgeable and committed criminal defense or DUI attorney.”
  • “Attorney Manchester is well-known for his strong work ethic. He is the type of attorney that you would like to have involved in your case. Known as a person who stands up for principle, Attorney Manchester has the guts that is needed (but sadly is missing in a lot of criminal defense attorneys) to defend the citizen accused. He is certainly not afraid to defend people who have been accused by the government of being in violation of the law. His favorite two words seems to be “Prove it!””
  • “Brian Manchester is a knowledgeable, dedicated attorney, with the skill and ability to successfully defend citizens who are accused of driving under the influence. I highly recommend Brian.”

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