What Is A Preliminary Hearing In PA?

In a criminal case in Pennsylvania, the preliminary hearing is a court date that will happen following the preliminary arraignment, almost always on a different day. Prelims, as they are called for short, usually happen within a few weeks. Sometimes, there are allowable delays, and a preliminary hearing might not occur for months after the arrest. 

If you or your loved one is charged with a crime in Philadelphia, the surrounding counties, or throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the accused may or may not be entitled to a preliminary hearing. You can book an appointment with our firm to discuss whether there will be a prelim or the case will proceed directly to trial. 

So, what happens at the preliminary hearing? At the preliminary hearing, prosecutors (or sometimes a police officer) will present evidence that establishes the “prima facie case” for every charge against the accused. The prosecutors only need to prove that it is more likely than not that a crime was committed and that the defendant is the individual who committed that crime. Innocence or guilt is not decided at this time. 

Criminal defense attorneys like preliminary hearings because it is our chance to get a “preview” of the prosecution’s case. The main goals are to collect as much information as possible, lock witnesses into their respective testimony, and potentially get the charges reduced or dropped completely. In some cases, it may even be a good strategy to waive the right to a preliminary hearing.

To achieve these goals, it is critical to have a criminal lawyer who is prepared and skilled. A well-executed strategy at the preliminary hearing will set up the rest of the case for the best possible outcome or could lead to the case ending before moving forward to trial. You should contact a law firm such as Stephen Stewart Law immediately to discuss your options. If you reach out to Philadelphia Attorney Stephen Stewart for a free initial consultation, he will be able to provide a confidential evaluation of your case.

If you or someone you care about is facing criminal charges and has a preliminary hearing coming up, you should contact this firm for a confidential and free consultation. Call 215-650-6500 or email us at hello@stephenstewartlaw.com.


If you have a question about whether to file a Motion to Quash in a situation involving you or a loved one, call now to speak with a lawyer.


If you are facing an emergency, please call 215-650-6500. An initial conversation with Attorney Stephen Stewart is free and confidential. There's no obligation to hire Mr. Stewart after a consultation.

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