Video Center » Videos » What Happens at a Preliminary Hearing? West Covina Felony Crimes Defense Attorney Explains
What happens at a preliminary hearing?’
The preliminary hearing takes place after your arraignment and is only heard in a felony case (with the caveat explained below). The preliminary hearing is also known as a “prelim” – for short – or a probable cause hearing. Depending on the number of witnesses and complexity of the issues involved, the hearing can last as little as twenty minutes to multiple hours. The hearing must generally occur within ten days of the arraignment or plea (whichever takes place later); however, usually, the defendant will waive his or her right to go to a preliminary hearing within ten days and have the case heard as an “early disposition proceeding” or “EDP.” This gives your attorney as well as the prosecutor the opportunity to resolve the case without the necessity of going forward with the case (i.e., plea bargain). However, oftentimes no such resolution takes place prior to prelim and/or your attorney may first want to conduct the preliminary hearing to test the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecutor’s case against you. A good attorney can upset the prosecutor’s case by impeaching the credibility of his or her witnesses, allowing your lawyer to get leverage to negotiate a resolution that is more favorable to you in the long run.
After a prosecutor has filed a felony criminal complaint at the West Covina courthouse (or any other California Superior Court, i.e., Kern County Superior Court), the court will hear evidence aimed at demonstrating t