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Interviewer: If they cannot agree to a plea during the status conference, it will go into a trial level. Is that right?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Yes. In between that trial level, there can be a preliminary hearing. That’s to determine whether the defendant should face charges alleged in the complaint. At the hearing, the prosecutor presents the judge with evidence that could lead a reasonable person to conclude that the person committed that crime.
The Case Can Go Forward after the Preliminary Hearing or Be Dismissed
It’s also known as a “probable cause” hearing. Then the judge can either find probable cause or order the defendant to stand trial or dismiss the case based on lack of probable cause.
Cases Being Presented to a Grand Jury Do Have a Preliminary Hearing
The prosecutor can decide to just avoid the preliminary hearing method and take it to a Grand Jury for indictment, prior to the preliminary hearing. Then the Grand Jury, which as I mentioned earlier is comprised of the 9 random citizens, can make that probable cause determination as well.