Chester County Preliminary Hearing Attorney
Fighting for you at the Preliminary Hearing Level
Have you been served with a summons to appear for a preliminary hearing in Chester County PA . When you are facing a preliminary hearing speak to our experienced criminal defense lawyers. Panic sets in when you finally get that notice that Chester County prosecution has begun against you and time is running out to make the right choices. That first decision is to find the right criminal defense attorney. It is only natural you are looking for the best options; the best strategies and the best outcome.
You want immediate resolution. Do not try to fix things on your own. You need a criminal defense attorney who is aggressive in protecting your rights at the preliminary hearing in Chester County. Expect a hard working, experienced and passionate team of criminal defense lawyers ready to fight for you and your family and serving all of Chester County PA including West Chester, PA.
The Preliminary hearing process
Learn about the preliminary hearing process: soon after you have had a preliminary arraignment or have been arraigned, an initial hearing or “preliminary hearing” is scheduled before a Chester County Magisterial District Judge to determine if the Chester County District Attorney’s office has enough evidence for the case to go to trial at the Chester County Court of Common Please.
The purpose of a Chester County preliminary hearing is not determine if you are guilty or not guilty but where there is a “prima facie” of evidence to proceed. This usually means that the Chester County prosecutor must produce witnesses and evidence to show a “reasonable jury” that you committed the offense.
A preliminary hearing is typically conducted within 10 days of an arrest or 20 days from the date of the mailing of a summons. It is held before a magisterial district judge in the area where the alleged criminal offense occurred. At the preliminary hearing, the magisterial district judge determines from the evidence presented whether there is a prima facie case that an offense was committed and the alleged offender committed it.
At a preliminary hearing, the prosecution must show that |a prima facie case exits and with evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, it sufficiently establishes both that a crime occurred and that the accused is probably the perpetrator of that crime.
In most criminal cases, preliminary hearings provide alleged offenders with their first opportunities to understand what possible case resolutions prosecutors might be willing to accept.
Contact Our Pennsylvania Defense Attorneys
This is a “probable cause” decision and is based only on the Chester County prosecutor’s evidence and not the defense. As your defense attorneys we have the right to contest testimony and interrogate and cross-examine any witnesses that our presented by the Chester County District Attorney’s office as well as argue and advocated for you for a dismissal of the charges for lack of evidence.
Often the Chester County Magisterial District Judge will not allow discussion regarding the legality of the evidence or consider suppressing the evidence or even question the honesty of the prosecutor’s witnesses. The preliminary hearing judge will often explain that it is not his role to judge the honesty of the witnesses but only to determine if the Chester County prosecutor has enough evidence to prosecute the case in the Chester County Courts.
A preliminary hearing in Chester County often provides the opportunity for us to get the charges dismissed, withdrawn or reduced by negotiation and dealing between your criminal defense lawyer and the Chester County District Attorney’s office.
Admit Nothing Until Speaking with a Defense Lawyer
Whenever you or facing a preliminary hearing in Chester County for a summary, misdemeanor or felony criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. Make no mistake about it. Speaking to a Chester County District Attorney or the police officer is not a cooperative process; it is adversarial in nature. Do not even think about trying to plea with the Chester County Magisterial District Judge or his staff because it is improper and may be viewed as an illegal attempt to manipulate the court system. Speak to one of our experienced lawyers serving Chester County. With the insight of a former prosecutor now serving as a criminal defense attorney, we can give you the insight you need and speak to the prosecution on your behalf. For more information or for a free case consultation, please contact the defense lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 692-8700.
Attorney for Preliminary Hearings in Pennsylvania
If you were recently arrested or received a summons for a criminal offense anywhere in southeastern Pennsylvania, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel.
Ciccarelli Law Offices defends clients in communities throughout Lancaster County, Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, and the greater Philadelphia area.
Our West Chester criminal defense lawyers work as a team to help people achieve the most favorable outcomes to their cases, including possibly having criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (610) 692-8700 to have our attorneys review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.
Pennsylvania Preliminary Hearings Information Center
- What rights does an individual have at a preliminary hearing?
- How important is a preliminary hearing?
- Where can I learn more about preliminary hearings in West Chester?
Rights at Chester County Preliminary Hearings
Pennsylvania Code Rule 542(C) states that an alleged offender shall be present at any preliminary hearing except as provided in these rules, and may:
- be represented by counsel;
- cross-examine witnesses and inspect physical evidence offered against the alleged offender;
- call witnesses on the alleged offender’s behalf, other than witnesses to the alleged offender’s good reputation only;
- offer evidence on the alleged offender’s own behalf, and testify; and
- make written notes of the proceedings, or have counsel do so, or make a stenographic, mechanical, or electronic record of the proceedings.
If the magisterial district judge finds that the Commonwealth has established a prima facie case that an offense has been committed and the alleged offender committed it, the judge will hold the alleged offender for court on the offense on which the Commonwealth established a prima facie case.
When a prima facie case is not established, the magisterial district judge will discharge the alleged offender.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Preliminary Hearings
Preliminary hearings can be extremely important opportunities for criminal defense lawyers to get a better understanding of the strength of the prosecution’s case. In most jurisdictions, a preliminary hearing is required and if not, then the defendant has the right to request one. Preliminary hearings establish probable cause which is the basis that must be met to bring an individual to trial.
For example, an individual may waive his or her right to a preliminary hearing in certain cases where the an offender has acknowledge there is sufficient evidence that a crime was committed (such as a driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance [DUI] arrest involving a blood alcohol concentration [BAC] of 0.16 or higher).
In such a case, an alleged offender can opt not to pursue a preliminary hearing if the prosecutor appears willing to offer Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program eligibility.
In other cases, the preliminary hearings can allow criminal defense attorneys to begin working to possibly get criminal charges reduced or dismissed if the prosecutor initially seems unwilling to provide an acceptable plea bargain or the alleged offender has genuinely been wrongfully accused.
Evidentiary rules are may be different at preliminary hearings than they are at criminal trials. Evidence that would not normally be admissible, may be presented to the magistrate judge during preliminary hearings. For example hearsay evidence is allowed during preliminary hearings and can provide a criminal defense lawyer with valuable insight into the quality of evidence possessed by the prosecutor.
Preliminary Hearings Resources in Pennsylvania
Preliminary Hearing | Pennsylvania Office of Crime Victims — The Pennsylvania Office of Victims’ Services provides funding to victim service agencies that work directly with victims, provides financial help to victims through the Victims Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP), and collaborates with criminal justice and allied professionals that advocate and respond to the needs of victims. You can find an overview of preliminary hearings on this section of the Pennsylvania Office of Crime Victims website. Certain text is linked to definitions
Chapter 5 | Pretrial Procedures in Court Cases — Chapter 5 of Title 234 of the Pennsylvania Code governs pretrial procedures in court cases. You can read more about waivers of preliminary hearings, preliminary hearing continuances, and disposition of cases at preliminary hearings. You can also find the law relating to proceedings by indicting grand jury without preliminary hearings.
Ciccarelli Law Offices | West Chester Preliminary Hearings Defense Lawyer
Did you receive a court summons or were you arrested for a criminal offense in southeastern Pennsylvania? Make sure that you contact Ciccarelli Law Offices as soon as possible.
Our criminal defense attorneys in West Chester have offices in Springfield, Malvern, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Lancaster, Kennett Square, and Radnor. You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (610) 692-8700 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.