Pre-Trial Proceedings

Preliminary Hearing
In felony cases, your first appearance may be required for the preliminary hearing. Here, a judge of the District Court listens to the evidence of the crime and determines whether it is sufficient to require the defendant to go to trial in Circuit Court.

The preliminary hearing is not a trial. If there is sufficient evidence, the defendant will be "bound over" and the case transferred to the Circuit Court for trial. Court rules allow very little advance notice of a preliminary hearing.
Grand Jury Hearing
You may also be summoned to appear for a Grand Jury hearing. Here, a group of 8-16 persons listen to evidence presented by the witnesses to determine if there are sufficient grounds to show that a crime was committed and that the defendant committed the crime.

Oftentimes the Grand Jury hearings will take the place of the preliminary hearing. The defendant and defense attorney will not be present. Victims and witnesses are usually subpoenaed for Grand Jury hearings. Grand Jury proceedings are closed to the public.

Arraignment - Circuit Court
After the defendant is "bound over" by a preliminary hearing or indicted by the Grand Jury he will be arraigned in Circuit Court. Your appearance is not required. The defendant will be asked to enter a plea. Most defendants will plead "not guilty" at this stage and a trial date will be set.

In almost all cases, there are pretrial motions. Some are made by the defense attorney, some by the deputy prosecuting attorney. Occasionally, it may be necessary to have a witness, such as yourself, testify at such hearings.