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Why you need quality legal representation at your Preliminary Hearing

When meeting with clients who are involved with the criminal justice system for the first time, I am regularly asked whether it is important to have legal representation at a preliminary hearing.  Sure, it sounds preliminary... and it's only a hearing... and not a trial -- but it is the first place most clients screw up.   Lots of lawyers who are not versed in criminal law miss the boat on this one, too.

You see, the Government (aka police) has the obligation at the preliminary hearing of proving that a crime happened and that the Defendant is the one who did it, backed up by prima facie evidence.  (that's me showing off my latin!)  It means, "some" evidence.

When the government fails, the case may be thrown out.  As in... over.  Get it?

Today, I attended the preliminary hearing for a young lady charged with retail theft, for allegedly stealing a small item from a department store.  Seems simple enough to prove, right?  Wrong.  The store security staff reported that they watched the defendant shopping...saw her put the item into her purse... all while they monitored the store security cameras...and when they caught up with her outside the store, the socks were in her purse.  Open and shut, right?  Wrong again.  They never mentioned that she left the store without paying for the items--and it's the government's burden of proof....

That's why it's important to have quality legal represenation at your preliminary hearing...

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