You have a right to a probable cause hearing in the District Court when charged with a felony offense. The purpose of the probable cause hearing is twofold: the probable cause hearing is a preliminary hearing to determine if an offense has been committed and if there is probable cause to believe that you are the one that committed it. The burden of proof is on the State to present evidence satisfying these two elements.
We love probable cause hearings. The probable cause hearing is an opportunity to see what evidence the State may offer at a future trial. Often a police officer, or detective, having some knowledge of the case will testify under oath about the facts and circumstances of the case. Once the officer is finished testifying we get to cross examine him. The important point is that the testimony is under oath. We can use the transcript of the probable cause hearing at a later hearing or trial to impeach the witness’s credibility should the witness testify differently than they did at the probable cause hearing.
Occasionally there are good strategic reasons to waive the probable cause hearing. For instance, if you have been sitting in jail for the past week the State may agree to lower your bail in exchange for waiving the hearing. Sometimes we may waive the hearing in exchange for getting all the police reports early thus allowing us to get an early jump on the case.
Office number: 603-595-5525