A preliminary hearing is like a mini-trial
where prosecutors put witnesses and/or evidence against a felony defendant.
Unlike a trial where the legal standard is beyond a reasonable doubt, in a
preliminary hearing there is a lesser legal standard of probable cause for the
This decision at a preliminary hearing is made
by a judge, not a jury.
If the judge finds there is no probable cause
to believe an offense has been committed, he or she must dismiss the criminal
complaint and discharge the defendant.
But the prosecution can turn around and file
charges again against the defendant for the same offense.
About 95 percent of the preliminary hearings
that I have attended result in findings of probable cause to hold defendants
more information on preliminary hearings courtesy of Cornell School of Law go