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What is a Carroll County Preliminary Hearing?

A Carroll County preliminary hearing is a proceeding held in the District Court.

Carroll County Preliminary Hearing Determines Probable Cause

A preliminary hearing is held to determine if probable cause exists to charge you with a felony crime.  A preliminary hearing is not a trial, and the court is not concerned with misdemeanor charges.

If the district court determines that probation cause exists, then the case will be transferred to the circuit court.  If the court finds no probable cause, then your felony criminal charges may be dismissed.  However, the State’s Attorney’s Office may refile the felony charges later.

Probable cause is low standard of proof.  It is not beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard used to determined guilty or innocence at trial.  Since the standard of proof is so low in a Carroll County preliminary hearing, almost all hearings end with a finding of probable cause.

In those rare cases where the judge dismisses the felony charges, the case continues as a misdemeanor in the district court.

Carroll County Preliminary Hearing and Bail

Westminster defendants not incarcerated at the time of their Carroll County preliminary hearing usually waive their right to hearing, and allow the case to be transferred to Caroll County Circuit Court.  They do this because, Carroll County District Court judges tend to review a defendant’s bail at a preliminary hearing.

Carroll County Criminal Defense Attorney Ross W. Albers believes that the value of a preliminary hearing is not worth risking the defendant’s bail.  Since, there is no risk of losing bail when a defendant is incarcerated, it is standard practice to have a preliminary hearing whenever one is available.

Carroll County Preliminary Hearing as a Discovery Tool

The greatest benefit of having a Carroll County preliminary hearing is that the defendant gets a preview of the State’s Attorney’s case.  In order to establish probable cause, the state will usually call a single detective as a witness.  That detective is permitted to testify to what others involved in the case may know or may have seen.  Hearsay is permitted.  At the end of the State’s testimony, the defense has the opportunity for cross-examination the witness. However, the defendant is not permitted to call witnesses or to testify in their own defense.

Contact a Carroll County Criminal Defense Attorney

The Law Office of Ross W. Albers is located in Westminster, Maryland.  Carroll County Criminal Defense Attorney Ross W. Albers is a former Baltimore City prosecutor.  Contact the Law Office of Ross W. Albers today to schedule a free consultation.