What Is A Preliminary Hearing?

A preliminary hearing refers to a legal proceeding that comes before a criminal trial where the accused person is given a chance to mount a defense against the criminal charges being levied against them.

Preliminary Hearing Similar To Court Arrangement

Preliminary hearings are somehow similar to court arraignments but there are key differences in how the proceedings are handled. One of the key distinctions is that they each serve different purposes. Additionally, in preliminary hearings, the accused is given more chances to offer counter arguments to the prosecution.

  • In Colorado, a preliminary hearing is separate from the criminal trial
  • There is NO Guarantee that you will get a preliminary hearing
  • It’s a GREAT idea to have an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney handle your preliminary hearing

If the accused party enters a plea of ‘not guilty’, a preliminary hearing may not be held. In some states, they are only conducted when the accused individual is charged with a felony. In other states, the courts rely on the process of ‘grand jury indictment’.

Who Can Have A Preliminary Hearing In Colorado?

According to the Rules of Criminal Procedure in Colorado, every individual who is accused of committing a class 1, 2 or 3 felony has the inalienable right to demand and receive a preliminary hearing in order to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the accessed did indeed commit the felony offense for which they are charged.

Persons who are charged with a class 4, 5 or 6 felony also have the right to receive a preliminary hearing if they are accused of a crime that requires mandatory sentencing, a crime of sexual violence or a crime of violence. In other cases where an individual is charged with a class 4, 5 or 6 felony violation, the accused may also have the right to receive a preliminary hearing especially if they are in police custody. If the accused person is released before the start of their hearing, the court can do away with the need for holding a hearing.

A Plea Bargain Can Resolve Preliminary Hearings

There is always the possibility that before a preliminary hearing commences, the criminal case at had may be resolved if the government and defendant enter into a plea bargain agreement. Therefore, there should be careful consideration on the timing of negotiations for a plea agreement during the period of preliminary hearings.

Is It A Good Idea to Request for A Preliminary Hearing If You Are Charged with Committing A Crime in Colorado?

It is possible to use the proceedings of a preliminary hearing to prevent a criminal trial in your case. That means that if you are granted a hearing, you should use the opportunity to provide strong arguments on why the prosecution has a weak case against you.

The help of a criminal defense attorney can make a have a huge impact on how you prepare and present your case.


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