What is a preliminary hearing?
The preliminary hearing, which takes place in either the General District Court or the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, is where the judge hears the Commonwealth's evidence to determine if there is sufficient evidence to send felony charges to the grand jury for indictment in the Circuit Court. Therefore, the Commonwealth usually will not present all of its evidence at the preliminary hearing. If the district court judge does not find probable cause for a felony, then that charge will be dismissed unless the judge finds sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of a lesser included misdemeanor instead. If the district judge finds that there is probable cause that the defendant committed the felony charged in the warrant, that felony charge is certified to the next grand jury. The grand jury, which is convened in the Circuit Court, will then hear some of the Commonwealth's evidence to determine whether it finds probable cause for the felony charge. If the grand jury finds probable cause, it returns a true bill, thereby indicting the defendant.

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1. What is the difference between the Commonwealth's Attorney and the County Attorney?
2. Can I drop charges that have already been filed?
3. Can the Commonweath's Attorney give me legal advice about private legal matters?
4. Will a Commonwealth's Attorney represent me on a traffic ticket?
5. How can I get my property returned in a criminal case?
6. How do I get a copy of a police report?
7. How do I pay a traffic ticket?
8. How can I have my criminal record expunged?
9. If I get a subpoena, do I have to go to court?
10. What is an arraignment?
11. What is a preliminary hearing?
12. How do I go about getting a Protective Order against someone who is physically abusing or threatening me?
13. What do I do if I have not received my court ordered restitution?