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. The Law Office of Robert W. Harrell, III, LLC is here to help!
What is a Preliminary Hearing?
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.
What are the Issues to be determined in a Preliminary Hearing
- Whether it is more likely than not that the crime occurred
- Whether or not the defendant committed the crime
What standard of proof does the judge use in a Preliminary Hearing?
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.
Are Preliminary Hearings Mandatory?
No. Preliminary Hearings are not mandatory. You also do not have to appear even if a hearing is held.
How do you Request a Preliminary Hearing?
To request a Preliminary Hearing, you or your attorney should request one from the court within ten (10) days of bond court.
What should you expect during the Preliminary Hearing?
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.
Do you have the right to testify or offer up a defense during your Preliminary Hearing?
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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*Please be aware that the use of this Cheat Sheet does not create an attorney-client relationship. Attorney Trey Harrell is not your attorney until we agree to that in writing. This Cheat Sheet, along with any website to which it links, is designed for educational and informational purposes, not as legal advice. Each person’s legal matter is unique and requires the review of an attorney licensed in that person’s jurisdiction. Attorney Trey Harrell’s office is located at Harrell Square Center, 2000 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. #2002