Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu

Can Defendants Win Their Case At The Preliminary Hearing?


When you first meet with a criminal defense lawyer after an arrest, you might be hoping that your lawyer will help you by persuading the jury to acquit you at your trial.  The chances are that your lawyer will not do this, because trials are only the outcome in a small fraction of criminal cases.  If the evidence against you is scant enough, your lawyer might be able to make your entire case disappear within the span of a week.  Even if it takes longer than that, there are plenty of opportunities for the case to resolve, with an outcome favorable to you, before the case makes it to trial.  In fact, it is sometimes even possible to walk out of the courtroom with your good name restored after a single hearing.  The preliminary hearing is an important part of your criminal case, and no matter how it ends, you still have a chance to prove your innocence, if you have not proven it already.  If you have been arrested on suspicion of a crime, your preliminary hearing is just around the corner, so now is the time to contact a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer.

A Preliminary Hearing by Any Other Name Is a Chance to Win Your Case Painlessly

Call it a first appearance or a probable cause hearing, but a preliminary hearing is where your criminal case begins.  At this hearing, the judge reviews the evidence that the prosecution plans to present at the trial if the defendant decides to plead guilty at the arraignment, which comes slightly later.  It goes without saying that, at the preliminary hearing, there is still room for doubt about the defendant’s guilt.  The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether there is any doubt about the defendant’s innocence.

At the preliminary hearing, the worst-case scenario for the defendant is that the judge decides that the case can go forward, that the prosecution has enough evidence to make a case against the defendant.  The best-case scenario is that the judge sees that the prosecution has little or no legally valid evidence to present to the jury.  These are some ways this can happen:

  • A key prosecution witness refuses to testify.
  • Upon cross-examination, a witness who claimed to have seen the defendant commit the crime turns out not to be credible.
  • The judge determines that the evidence is obviously not sufficient to convict the defendant. For example, if the defendant is accused of theft, the judge can clearly tell that the defendant took someone else’s property, but there is no evidence that the defendant did not have the legal owner’s permission to take it.

Even when things are not this clear-cut, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to persuade the judge that there is no probable cause to proceed with the case.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn