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A Toronto criminal lawyer explains how a preliminary court hearing works

Preliminary court hearing is a criminal lawyer’s first look at the Crown’s case

The preliminary hearing is a critical stage in the criminal court process. Here the Crown attorney will present evidence and call witnesses to demonstrate to a judge that sufficient evidence exists to proceed with a trial. The preliminary hearing judge will not make a ruling about an accused person’s guilt.

In a preliminary hearing, the Crown attorney does not have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, as they would during a trial. A lower threshold is used to determine whether an accused will stand trial. The Crown attorney only has to demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence for a jury to return with a guilty verdict

Preliminary court hearings can lead to dismissal of charges

A criminal defence lawyer will gain a better understanding of the Crown’s case against their client during a preliminary court hearing by cross examining the Crown’s witnesses and challenging evidence.

Criminal defence lawyers will use a preliminary court hearing as an opportunity to make the argument before a judge that charges should be dismissed because of a lack of evidence. The Crown may also realize that their case is weak, and be more open to a favourable plea bargain agreement.

At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the presiding judge will decide whether the defendant will stand trial or issue a discharge because of a lack of evidence.

If you or a loved one live in the greater Toronto and are in need of a criminal lawyer, contact us online or call 416.944.8111. Leora Shemesh is a Toronto criminal lawyer who is passionately committed to providing you the best possible defence.

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