What Is A Preliminary Hearing in the St. Louis Criminal Justice System?
A preliminary hearing is one of the initial stages of the criminal justice system. As the word “preliminary” indicates, it is a hearing that happens very early in the process (after your arraignment, but before an actual trial). It is an opportunity for you (or your St. Louis criminal defense attorney) to convince the judge that there is not sufficient probable cause for the case to move forward (and that the charges leveled against you should therefore be dropped). At a preliminary hearing, you have the chance to question witnesses (usually the police officer who arrested you), and to present limited evidence to the court. It has the look and feel of regular trial (witnesses are swore in under oath, and attorneys from both sides question those individuals). At the conclusion of almost all preliminary hearings, the judge rules that there is enough probable cause for the proceeding to move forward. But if your attorney can convince the court that there is not (based on the facts presented at the hearing), then the judge may dismiss the charges altogether.
WE KEEP OUR FEES LOW SO THAT EVERYONE CAN HAVE THE BENEFIT OF LEGAL REPRESENTATION
Let’s say you have been charged with possession of marijuana (or so other illegal substance). But the police officer that wrote out the citation found the marijuana by way of a search that very likely violated your Fourth Amendment rights (which is a Constitutional prohibition against unlawful search and seizures). So you hire an attorney, and that person speaks with the local prosecutor about what you believe to be a violation of your rights. The prosecutor listens to your lawyer, but he or she is not willing to reduce the charges by way of a plea bargain (because the prosecutor believes that your argument about the unlawful search and seizure is slim). Your defense attorney may at this point demand that a preliminary hearing be held. At the hearing, your St. Louis criminal defense lawyer will put the officer on the witness stand and pepper him or her with very direct questions: “Where did you find the marijuana?”, “Did my client give you permission first to search his vehicle?”, “Why did you pull my client over in the first place?”, “Why did you unpack my client’s suitcase that was in the truck of his car when you pulled him over for a broken taillight?”
$450 TO TAKE CARE OF MOST ST LOUIS CRIMINAL DEFENSE MISDEMEANOR CHARGES
As mentioned above, the preliminary hearing most often results in the judge finding that probable cause exists to move forward. But many defense attorneys will use this hearing as a way to give the prosecutor a “forecast” of the damaging evidence your side can and will present should it go to trial. And when this happens at a prelim, the prosecutor may very well be willing to offer a recommendation to the court (to either amend the original charge to some lesser offense, or drop the matter altogether).
AT THE VERY LEAST, WE WANT TO GET THE CHARGES REDUCED SO THAT IT DOES NOT SHOW UP ON YOUR RECORD
The affordable St. Louis criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken, have been helping people with their misdemeanor charges for over ten (10) years. Our goal is to make sure that the charges leveled against you do not stay on your permanent record, and do any lasting damage. And we want to do all of this at an affordable price. The fees for a typical misdemeanor case start at $450. But the initial consultation to discuss your legal issues is free of charge. So contact us today!!
We have two main locations: in the Central West End of St. Louis, at 1 North Taylor (on the corner of Taylor and Laclede), 63108; and in the Twin Cities of Festus / Crystal City, at 1000 Truman Blvd (Highway 61/67), 63019. The initial consultation is free of charge. So contact us today to learn more!!