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Do you need to request a preliminary hearing?

Do you need to request a preliminary hearing?

We recommend that our clients request preliminary hearings- either by completing the form provided in bond court themselves (if we haven’t been retained yet), or if we’re already on the case we’ll make the request ourselves.

In General Sessions court in South Carolina, defendants who have been arrested for a felony or other offense have the option to request a preliminary hearing. This hearing is not required, and the defendant does not have to be present. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is probable cause to support the arrest. At the hearing, a police officer will testify about the circumstances of the arrest and the judge will consider if the testimony, if true, could potentially constitute the crime that the defendant has been charged with.

The defense attorney is not allowed to present evidence or call witnesses at the hearing, but they can cross-examine the state's witness to a limited extent. Even if the judge dismisses the case due to lack of probable cause, the prosecutor can still present the case to a grand jury and obtain an indictment. defendants have 10 days from their initial appearance in bond court to request a preliminary hearing, which is typically held several months later. However, if the prosecutor presents the case to the grand jury before the hearing, the hearing may not take place. While defendants have the right to request a preliminary hearing, they do not have a right to have one conducted.

Preliminary hearings are good things to request because they can serve as opportunities to see if the police officer has any information beyond what's contained in the police report, and it can also be used to ask questions regarding the investigation (or lack thereof) leading up to the arrest. So if you've still got time to request a preliminary hearing for your case, we recommend you make sure this is done. 


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