The Purpose and Process of Preliminary Hearings
What happens at a preliminary hearing in the state of Oklahoma? Hi, I’m Oklahoma City Attorney Aaron Easton, and that’s the question we have before us today. So, if you’re facing an upcoming preliminary hearing, first off, that means you’ve been arrested and you’re being charged with a felony offense in Oklahoma. The state of Oklahoma does not provide preliminary hearings on misdemeanor offenses, so what you should know right out of the gate is that you are being charged with a serious crime in the state, and it’s important to take it seriously.
Now, the purpose of a preliminary hearing is, well, first I’ll tell you what it’s not. What it’s not is it’s not a mini-trial or an opportunity to try your case prior to trial and litigate all the facts and circumstances and the evidence. What it is is an opportunity for the state of Oklahoma through the district attorney’s office to prove to the magistrate judge that there is probable cause, one, that a crime occurred, and two, that you, the defendant, are responsible for that crime, the person who perpetrated the crime.
So, it’s a relatively low bar for the state of Oklahoma, unfortunately. It’s above proving reasonable suspicion that the defendant committed a crime, but it’s also below the state needing to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime like they would have to at a trial. So, another important aspect to know about a preliminary hearing is that the state does have the presumption that their case is going to get stronger after a preliminary hearing. So, that helps lower the bar, the threshold they’ve got to cross, because it’s presumed that their investigation will continue, that more information will come in as they do that investigation prior to trial.
Importance of Good Representation
If the court finds that there is probable cause that the crime occurred and that you, the defendant, in fact committed that crime, they will do what’s called bind you over for trial. If they do that, you will be formally arraigned on the charges that you’ve been charged with, and your attorney and the state will enter the pretrial process, the process in which there will be exchange of information, various motions filed, discovery provided to your defense, things of that nature.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
The most important thing to know is if you’re being charged with a felony in the state of Oklahoma, it’s very important you get good representation on your side as soon as possible. And if you would like to speak to an attorney with my firm, free and confidentially, you can reach us at (918) 932-2833.