When a criminal complaint has been filed by a prosecutor, a preliminary hearing is scheduled to determine if there’s enough evidence available to go to trial in Virginia. During the hearing, you can expect witnesses to take the stand. The defense may cross-examine some of the witnesses.
The rights that defendants have during this type of hearing include having their charges dismissed if they are capable of proving that there’s not enough evidence presented by the prosecutor. Such a hearing can also allow the defense attorney to determine how strong the prosecutor’s case is before heading to trial.
How to prepare for a preliminary hearing
Before your preliminary hearing, you’ll need to dress appropriately and appear professional because it’s the first impression you’ll make on the judge. Understand that the purpose of the hearing isn’t to determine if you’re innocent or guilty. You can also expect police officers to possibly be used as witnesses for the prosecutor’s case.
It’s important to remain neutral at the preliminary hearing. Avoid making noises, comments or faces, which will be observed by the judge. Keep in mind that your conduct will influence how the judge perceives you. An attorney may help you prepare for this hearing.
Who can you contact for legal assistance?
If you need representation as a defendant, it’s important to obtain the services of an attorney who has criminal defense experience. They might argue on your behalf why some or all of the charges should be dismissed. The attorney may inform you of your rights and walk you through the process to ensure that you know what to expect.