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Preliminary Hearings

The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient reason (probable cause) to believe the defendant committed the crime(s) alleged in the warrant(s) that have been issued against the defendant. If probable cause exists the case is sent to either the Superior Court (felony) or the State Court (misdemeanor). The prosecuting attorney (the District Attorney or the Solicitor General) will investigate the case further and decide on further prosecution. The decision of the Magistrate Court does not determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Defendants are entitled to be represented by a private attorney of their own choosing or may be represented by an attorney from the State and Magistrate Court Public Defender's Office.

During the hearing the State will present evidence they believe shows probable cause. The defendant's attorney has the right to cross examine any witness called by the State. The defense may also call witnesses, but that is rarely done at a preliminary hearing. The judge may also reconsider the defendant's bond, as appropriate.