What to Know about Preliminary Hearings in Pittsburgh?
Unrepresented parties often waive their preliminary hearing because they either think they are guilty and can’t defend against the charges, or that the preliminary hearing is a waste of time. However, this is often the wrong approach.
Don’t take unnecessary risks or damage your case. Speak with an experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer to properly assess the situation and how the preliminary hearing can work to your benefit.
Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 today for a free consultation.
The Benefits of Preliminary Hearings
Preliminary hearings in PA help reveal weaknesses in the government’s case and are often the best opportunity to cross-examine witnesses without worrying about a jury or trial judge.
As a defendant, you only stand to gain from a preliminary hearing. You cannot be sentenced based solely on what is said by the prosecution in these hearings. Moreover, a magistrate may decide there is not enough evidence for a trial and dismiss the charges.
While a dismissal at the preliminary hearing is not too common given that the government only has to establish a prima facie case, Pittsburgh criminal lawyers can still learn important information at a preliminary hearing that may help build a convincing defense.
Should You Waive Your Preliminary Hearing?
Sometimes for first offenses or minor crimes, you may be offered a diversionary program like ARD or Probation without Verdict in exchange for waiving your preliminary hearing. In other cases, the government may agree to withdraw some charges or offer a bail reduction if you waive this hearing.
These options are worth considering. But you should weigh the pros and cons of waiving a preliminary hearing with your attorney. In almost all other cases, you should opt to have a preliminary hearing and allow your attorney to test the government’s evidence.
What You Can Learn at a Preliminary Hearing
The preliminary hearing is your chance to evaluate the prosecution’s evidence without having a jury or trial judge present. This lets your attorney ask questions and explore areas that may help set the table for a strong defense at trial.
An experienced defense attorney will find weaknesses without revealing the strategy that may have the best chance for success at trial.
Having a preliminary hearing makes it easier to predict potential outcomes, and more importantly, what questions undermine those witnesses’ testimony. You may even learn enough information to arrange a good plea bargain.
Witnesses are typically not as well rehearsed for the preliminary hearing as they will be for trial. Therefore, the preliminary hearing is the best time to reveal inconsistencies or inaccuracies.
A well-prepared lawyer will make sure a court reporter is in attendance, allowing for a full record of the testimony. If a witness changes their story at trial, or admits something damaging, an attorney can use this to your advantage.
Work with a Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyer
In a preliminary hearing, the defense does not have to show any evidence or bring any witnesses. This would expose your trial strategy. Instead, you are free to highlight the flaws in the case against you.
If you have been arrested in the Pittsburgh area and have a preliminary hearing coming up, make sure to hire a qualified criminal defense lawyer to represent you. Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 today to discuss your case. We are available 24/7 and offer free initial consultations.