What is a Preliminary Examination? What should I expect at mine?

In Michigan, a preliminary examination is a crucial step in the criminal justice process for felony cases. This pretrial proceeding is conducted in district court and serves to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the felony offense(s) charged against him or her.

During the preliminary examination, the prosecutor presents evidence, including witness testimony and exhibits, to establish probable cause that the defendant committed the alleged felony crime. The defendant’s attorney has the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and challenge the sufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution. The defendant may also choose to present evidence or witnesses in his or her defense.

The standard of proof at a preliminary examination is lower than at trial. The prosecutor must demonstrate only probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime, rather than proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge determines that probable cause exists, the case is bound over for trial in circuit court.

However, if the judge finds that the prosecution has not met its burden of establishing probable cause, the charges may be dismissed, and the case will not proceed to trial. In some instances, the judge may also reduce the charges or modify the conditions of bond based on the evidence presented during the preliminary examination.

For defendants facing felony charges in Michigan, the preliminary examination is a critical stage in the criminal proceedings. It provides an opportunity to challenge the evidence against them and potentially have the charges dismissed before trial. Therefore, it is essential to have skilled legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can effectively advocate for the defendant’s rights and interests throughout the preliminary examination process.