Step 6: Preliminary Hearing
Once the defendant has entered a plea of not guilty, a preliminary hearing will often be held. The prosecutor must show that enough evidence exists to charge the defendant. Preliminary hearings are not always required, and the defendant can choose to waive it.
It must be held within 14 days of the initial appearance if the defendant is being held in jail. If the defendant is out on bail, it must be scheduled within 21 days of the initial appearance.
The preliminary hearing is like a mini-trial. The prosecution will call witnesses and introduce evidence, and the defense can cross-examine witnesses. However, the defense cannot object to using certain evidence, and in fact, evidence is allowed to be presented at a preliminary hearing that could not be shown to a jury at trial.
If the judge concludes there is probable cause to believe the crime was committed by the defendant, a trial will soon be scheduled. However, if the judge does not believe the evidence establishes probable cause that the defendant committed the offence, he will dismiss the charges.
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