In Delaware preliminary hearings are rights all accused have. The only exception to those matters where a grand jury is used in a prosecution. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to make sure the prosecutor doesn’t unlawfully arrest and detain someone for a crime which was either never committed or for which there is no evidence of the accused’s involvement. If facing criminal or DUI charges of any type in Delaware call Dover, DE criminal defense attorney John R. Garey ASAP. He offers free case reviews and serves New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County.
At a preliminary hearing, the Delaware District Attorney must establish at least a “prima facie” level of proof that a crime was committed and that the accused person was the one who committed that crime. This is a substantially lower level of proof then that required at trial which is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. At a preliminary hearing the district attorney must present legally competent evidence which connects the accused to a crime regardless of the crime.
Unlike at a trial, hearsay evidence is admissible at a preliminary hearing. Hearsay is an out of court statement offered for the truth which usually takes the form of another person’s words but can also be documents for which there are some exceptions (medical documents, business records). Hearsay is an extremely complicated legal topic and the purpose of this article is not to explain it.
Law students and attorney’s themselves struggle with the concept frequently but it’s important to keep in mind that a witness can only testify based on their observations. They can’t testify about something that was told to them by another person. The primary reason behind this concept is the issue of reliability as to what was actually said. While there are exceptions to the hearsay rule those exceptions are beyond the scope of this short article.
While the state aka the prosecution can present hearsay evidence during a preliminary hearing, it can’t base its whole case on that hearsay evidence. Per fundamental due process law the prosecution cannot present a case solely based on hearsay evidence.
Delaware preliminary hearings are important because they not only present an opportunity for the defense to get a look at the prosecution’s case but also allow the defense an opportunity to get charges dismissed or downgraded. Criminal charges based solely on hearsay evidence can’t be held for trial provided that your criminal defense attorney makes the proper argument and is obviously aware of the case law cited in this article.
If you are facing drug charges or gun crimes, a preliminary hearing is especially important because strong defense questions can set up potential pre-trial motions such as motions to suppress evidence and motions to quash. All of these pre-trial motions are important defense tools in any criminal case.
Contact A Delaware Defense Attorney Handling Preliminary Hearings
Please click here to contact Dover, Delaware preliminary hearings attorney John R. Garey. All case evaluations are free. You can also visit Or, you can visit @delawarecriminaldefenselawyers to arrange a free case examination.
Our Delaware criminal defense lawyers serve all of Delaware including Wilmington, Greenville, Claymont, Newport, Stanton, Newark, University of Delaware, Pike Creek, Hockessin, New Castle, Bear, Glasgow, Middletown, Odessa, Townsend, Smyrna, Dover, Delaware State University, Magnolia, Little Creek, Milford, Laurel, Millsboro, Seaford, Milton, Greenwood, Dagsboro, Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island & Ocean View, DE.
In closing, waiving a preliminary hearing usually isn’t a good decision unless the prosecution is going to dismiss charges based on that waiver or offer the defense some attractive plea deal. If you have more questions about Delaware preliminary hearings we invite you to contact our DE criminal defense attorneys by clicking here.
DE Preliminary Hearing Lawyer John R. Garey serves all of Delaware including Wilmington, Newark, Middletown, New Castle, Smyrna, Pike Creek, Hockessin, Milford, Dover, Seaford, Millsboro, Milton, Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Laurel, Frankford and Dagsboro.