Preliminary Hearings

Preliminary hearings test the sufficiency of the prosecution's evidence: Is there enough to
warrant a trial?

The term “preliminary hearing” (some­times called a probable cause hearing, preliminary examination, PX, or prelim) refers to a hearing in which a judge decides whether probable cause exists to require a defendant stand trial for a charged crime. This does not mean the judge decides whether the defendant is guilty, but only whether the prosecution can present enough evidence to justify a belief that a crime occurred and that the defendant committed it. If the judge decides that the prosecution has sufficient evidence, then a defendant is “bound over,” meaning that the court will retain jurisdiction over the defendant until the case is either taken to trial or settled.