Pre-Trial Hearings

While your case is pending in the calendar part your lawyer will have the chance to obtain more information (discovery) about the prosecution’s case against you, and to inspect any physical evidence in the prosecutor’s possession. Your lawyer may also ask the judge if there was enough evidence presented by the prosecutor to the grand jury to allow for the filing of the indictment. In order to decide whether there was enough evidence, the judge will read the transcript of the grand jury proceeding. If the judge finds that there was not enough evidence showing that you committed the crime(s) charged, the judge will dismiss the charges in the indictment or reduce the indictment to charge less serious offenses if the evidence shows that only lesser offenses were committed. In rare cases, an indictment may be dismissed in the interest of justice, but only where the judge decides that the prosecution of your case would be unjust.

If police officers took property from you, or if you made a statement to them, or if they had a witness identify you, your lawyer may file a motion asking that such evidence be suppressed. The judge may order that a suppression hearing be held. You have a right to be present at the hearing.

There are different kinds of hearings that may be held, depending on the kind of motion you make to the judge. At a Mapp hearing, for example, the judge hears evidence on the issue of whether the police legally seized property from you. At a Huntley hearing, the judge hears evidence on the issue of whether police officers acted legally when and if you made a statement to them and whether the statement was voluntarily made. At a Wade hearing, the judge hears evidence on the issue of whether police officers used fair methods when they had witnesses identify you as having committed the crime. At a Dunaway hearing, the judge hears evidence on the issue of whether police officers acted legally in arresting you. A Sandoval hearing seeks to bar the district attorney from present evidence of your criminal record, if any, at trial.

During the suppression hearing, testimony is taken from police officers and witnesses. Your lawyer will have a chance to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses, and you will also be given a chance to testify and call witnesses. If the prosecutor does not prove that the officers acted legally, or if you, through the evidence you present, prove that the police acted illegally, the judge will suppress the evidence. If the judge suppresses the evidence, the prosecutor will not be able to introduce the evidence against you at your trial. If the prosecutor has no other evidence against you and does not intend to appeal the judge’s decision, he will most likely file a motion asking the judge to dismiss your case.

 

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