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Preliminary Hearings

Representing You in Your Preliminary Hearing

The fact that it is called a “preliminary” hearing doesn’t negate its importance.  The preliminary hearing is more than just the first “kick at the can”, and can be invaluable to the resolution of your criminal charges.

Purposes of the Preliminary Hearing

A preliminary hearing is held so that a Court can determine if there is sufficient evidence to provide probable cause to believe that a particular crime was committed by the defendant.  Probable cause requires a lower standard of proof than at a criminal trial, in which the Prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.  The rules of evidence may be different in different jurisdictions, but unlike a criminal trial, hearsay is usually allowed.

If the Court finds probable cause, the defendant will be indicted for the crimes.  If not, the prosecution will end, in most cases.

Defendants have the right to have a lawyer represent them at preliminary hearings.

Strategic Importance of the Preliminary Hearing

Defendants are typically given the right to waive – to dispense with – their preliminary hearings.  The decision has strategic consequences either way.

On the one hand, a preliminary hearing is the first time that the Defense really gets to see what kind of evidence the Prosecution has – particularly, the weaknesses in the case against the defendant.  This knowledge can greatly inform the strategy of the Defense’s case – whether or not defense witnesses will be called and if so, which ones; what to focus on during cross-examination; what evidence the Defense should try to get excluded from the trial.

The Prosecution might also see the weaknesses in its case, and in rare cases, may modify the charges or withdraw them altogether.

On the other hand, waiving the preliminary hearing may allow your lawyer to vary your bail conditions and await your trial without staying in jail the entire time.  In some cases, the Prosecution may decide to offer a better plea deal or modify the charges.  If you are a first time offender, you might be eligible to participate in probation-like programs and avoid a criminal record, depending on the jurisdiction.

A Decision or Strategy Only a Professional Should Make

When it comes to deciding whether to waive a preliminary hearing, and when it comes time to conduct one, it cannot be stressed enough how imperative it is to consult with an experienced and capable lawyer first. The Court can appoint a public defender for you, but that can be a toss up in terms of what kind of advocate you will get.

Dean DelCollo and Dade Werb have spent more than 20 years with the Public Defender’s Office so you know they have the expertise to advance your legal interests. Contact us today and come in for a consultation.

Prevent Foul Play in Felony Prosecutions

Felony offenses are the crimes society has deemed the most severe and most threatening to its citizens. To this end, the stakes are the highest in felony prosecutions, and you should have a  defense lawyer fighting for you at the earliest stage possible.

It’s a myth that criminal defense lawyers live to let criminals get away with their crimes. Criminal defense lawyers are bound by duty to ensure the fairness of a system that pits the liberty and other interests of an individual against the resources and power of the government. They keep the system “honest” by challenging the evidence and demanding procedural fairness.

The Real Role of Criminal Defense Counsel

The authorities have many tools they are allowed to use, and are typically allowed to misrepresent details to see if you will give up information. Sometimes, good people “trip up” and act in a way that doesn’t fit with what the authorities consider innocent behavior. Sometimes, innocent people are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.

Other times, someone may have committed a crime, but the evidence against this person is so weak, being able to convict on this evidence would completely go against the fundamental principles of justice. We have checks and balances in place to prevent against instances such as these snowballing into systematic abuses of power.

Protection of Legal Rights at Every Stage

The criminal defense lawyers at Giordano, DelCollo, Werb & Gagne can get involved in a case as early as the investigative stages. If you believe you are being investigated for a crime – especially a serious one, attorneys Dean DelCollo and Dade Werb are here to advise you how to proceed without compromising your legal interests. In some cases, the authorities may tread more carefully knowing that you are represented.

Prior to trial, your attorney will assess a criminal case and find the most appropriate way to look after your best interests – whether to agree to or negotiate a plea deal or to aim for trial at the outset, whether to waive a preliminary inquiry, for example. We will also assist in obtaining the fairest bail conditions, providing the insight and information about your circumstances that the authorities may not have appreciated or realized.

Of course, our criminal defense lawyers negotiate plea deals with the district attorneys, and will advise you on what actions you must take to secure the fairest terms. Similarly, at the sentencing stage, if you are convicted, your lawyer will fight for the fairest conditions in light of your situation, circumstances, and any other factors in your favor. At trial, your lawyer tests the Prosecution’s evidence and ensures that the trial itself is fair. At appeal, we will the way the evidence was interpreted and how the law was applied, to make sure the trial result was fair.

When the Stakes Are This High

You need competent, capable counsel. At Giordano, DelCollo, Werb & Gagne, LLC, our criminal defense team has invaluable expertise gained through more than two decades fighting for defendants’ interests. It is your liberty, your livelihood – your life – that is at stake. You want experience, knowledge, and a good reputation in the legal system backing you up.

Call us today to get Dean DelCollo and Dade Werb in your corner.

AREAS OF PRACTICE

At Giordano, DelCollo, Werb & Gagne, LLC, our office will strive to meet all of the legal needs that you may require throughout your lifetime. Our office philosophy is: Once a Client, Always a Client. We will be there to answer any questions you may have and to assist you when needed.