What is a preliminary hearing?
A Preliminary Hearing is two things: 1) Most importantly, it's a deadline date for the State's Attorney to make a decision on whether to indict the case or to dismiss the more serious felonies. If the State decides to indict your case, they will present it to the Grand Jury. If they decide not to, they'll dismiss the non-District Court triable felonies. 2) If the State hasn't yet made a decision, they may present the case to a judge on the Preliminary Hearing date rather than the Grand Jury. The judge must then decide whether there's probable cause that you committed the felonies. If the judge can't find probable cause, the felonies will be dismissed. Regardless of which way the Preliminary Hearing goes, it could significantly affect your bond status, if you're held in jail. Or if you're not held on the case, the Preliminary Hearing can be an opportunity to negotiate a pre-indictment plea if that would be beneficial.
What types of cases are Preliminary hearings used for?
The most common cases are felony assault, felony drug offenses and burglary cases. But a preliminary hearing can be requested any time you are charged with a felony that can't be tried in the district court.
should I request a Preliminary Hearing?
Absolutely! It's never a good idea to not request one. At the very least, it requires the State's Attorney, to a certain extent, to make a quick decision about what to do with the felonies. If you have any questions about your particular situation, call Mr. Cleckner on his cellphone at (301) 801-8140 or via email.