Preliminary Hearing Information

1. A criminal complaint has been filed alleging that you have committed a criminal offense or offenses. A copy of that complaint is included with the papers you have received. You are urged to read carefully the criminal complaint and the attached affidavit of probable cause and make any notes you think may be helpful to your attorney in the defense of your case.

2. You are presumed to be innocent of the charges filed against you. That presumption of innocence stays with you throughout this case until you have been found guilty at trial or have entered a plea of guilty.

3. You have the right to be silent throughout this case. Anything you say to anyone, except your attorney, can be used against you in court, so you should not discuss your case with anyone except your attorney.

4. You have the right to be represented by an attorney at all stages of this case. If you can afford to hire an attorney you should do so immediately. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney an attorney will be appointed to represent you without cost.

5. You have received a “Hearing Notice” ordering you to appear in court on the date and at the time and location scheduled.

6. A preliminary hearing is not a trial. It is not held to determine if you are guilty or not guilty of the criminal charges filed against you. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine if the Commonwealth (The District Attorney) can present sufficient evidence to justify keeping your case in the criminal justice system and sending it on to the Court of Common Pleas for further and final disposition.

7. At the preliminary hearing you have the right to be represented by an attorney. Your attorney can cross examine any witnesses who testify against you and inspect any evidence presented against you. You can present a defense at the preliminary hearing, but your defense is limited to the question of whether the Commonwealth has presented sufficient evidence to warrant sending a charge or charges on to the Court of Common Pleas. In presenting a defense you may testify, call witnesses to testify and introduce evidence of your own.

8. As stated above, you can waive your preliminary hearing and let your case proceed directly to the Court of Common Pleas, but your attorney must consent to your waiver.

You are urged to take advantage of your right to be represented by an attorney at all stages of your case. Your attorney will have knowledge of rules, statutes, procedures, defenses and legal issues which may be crucial to the outcome of your case.