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Criminal and Family Law
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The Trial Before The Trial

When is a trial not a trial? Answer: When it is a preliminary hearing.

If you are arrested on felony or Class A misdemeanor charges, you have the right to a preliminary hearing.

While misdemeanor charges are a lower offense, a conviction can lead to a jail term up to a year. When you are facing loss of liberty, fines, penalties and a criminal record, a preliminary hearing is an opportunity you cannot afford to ignore.

What happens during a preliminary hearing?

During a preliminary hearing, a judge hears argument from the prosecution and the defense. The judge then rules whether the case will proceed to trial or be dismissed.

As in an actual trial, the burden of proof during a preliminary hearing is on the prosecuting attorney. My job as a criminal defense attorney is to make that burden of proof impossible to meet. During a preliminary hearing on a Class A misdemeanor drunk driving charge, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  • The alleged impaired driving took place in Utah
  • The defendant was in control of the motor vehicle
  • A test showed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent
  • The BAC rendered a defendant unable to drive safely
  • Another person was injured due to negligence by the defendant, or a minor was present

A preliminary hearing gives your attorney a chance to hear and argue the evidence.When is a trial not a trial? This could be your answer: When charges against you are dismissed at a preliminary hearing.

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