When Does It Makes Sense to Waive Your Right to a Preliminary Hearing?

Waiving Your Right

Criminal Law and the strategies that criminal lawyers use when defending their client are based on the specifics of each individual case. The decisions about how to proceed are made early on, with one of the first being whether a person charged with a crime should waive their right to a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is a sort of mini-trial, at which the judge in the case will hear evidence and decide whether there are enough facts supporting the charges to move forward. There are certain circumstances under which skipping that step makes sense. Here are just a few:

  • The lawyer for the defendant (which is the person charged with having committed a crime) is hoping or has reason to believe that some or all the witnesses will not be available to testify against them in the future when the actual trial is held. If there is a preliminary hearing where the witnesses testify, their testimony can be read from the preliminary hearing’s transcripts, but if there is no preliminary hearing, then there would be no testimony.
  • The lawyer for the defendant is hoping that in the time that passes, witnesses’ memories may become cloudy, or they may change their minds about being willing to testify.
  • The lawyer for the defendant is afraid that testimony that would be provided at a preliminary hearing might lead to other charges being filed against their client as more details of what happened are revealed.
  • The lawyer for the defendant is trying to obtain a lower bail for the defendant so that he can be at liberty to defend himself.
  • The defendant plans to plead guilty and wants to avoid the emotional burden of facing witnesses and victims, as well as avoiding the additional financial cost and embarrassment of the preliminary hearing.

Waiving the right to a preliminary hearing is a big decision that should not be made lightly or without the guidance of an experienced criminal law professional. The preliminary hearing is one of your best opportunities for learning what the prosecutor knows and how strong their case against you is. To speak to an attorney with years of successful criminal law experience, contact the law firm of Baer Romain today to set up an appointment.