Preliminary Hearings in Utah
Occasionally, criminal trials in Utah are resolved even before they happen through preliminary hearings. A preliminary hearing is a hearing in which a judge decides whether there is probable cause to make a defendant even stand trial for the crime he or she is charged, such as a DUI. This doesn’t mean the judge decides whether the defendant is guilty, only if there is enough evidence to justify a belief a crime was committed. If the judge decides that there is enough evidence, the court will retain jurisdiction over the defendant until the case is resolved.
The judge may find there is not sufficient evidence to hold the defendant to answer at a trial for a charged crime, but he may find that there is enough evidence for a lesser crime. The judge can hold the defendant to answer for the lesser crime when the preliminary hearing has finished.
The Preliminary Hearing in Utah
The preliminary hearing in some ways can be a preview of what the trial will be like if the case gets that far. The vast majority of cases don’t go to trial, however. Most cases end in a plea deal or are dismissed. At a preliminary hearing, the prosecutor starts the hearing by putting on witnesses and submitting evidence. The prosecutor doesn’t usually present his whole case, just enough to show the judge there is probable cause to hold the defendant for trial.
A Utah criminal defense attorney will cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses in order to test the witnesses’ demeanor and to find out more about their observations. This helps the defense cross-examine those witnesses later if the case goes to trial. The defense has the right to put on its own case but doesn’t have to, and often does not.
Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys at Preliminary Hearings
No person charged with a DUI or any other crime should ever go to court without a Utah criminal defense attorney. Criminal suspects should obtain a defense attorney even at a preliminary hearing because a defense attorney may be able get the case dropped without going to trial.
If you have a preliminary hearing because of a criminal charge such as a DUI, call a Salcido Law Firm criminal defense attorney. A Salcido Law Firm attorney will represent you at a criminal preliminary hearing and fight hard to get the case dismissed before it goes to trial. Call 801.618.1334 to speak with a Utah criminal defense attorney today.