What Is a Preliminary Hearing?

A preliminary hearing determines whether there is enough evidence to force an individual to stand trial, but it does not determine guilt or innocence. According to Nolo, a preliminary hearing allows both the prosecution and the defense to outline their cases, although the defense is not obligated to present information.

Nolo states that there is no jury in a preliminary hearing; only a judge hears the evidence presented by the two sides. The burden of proof is still on the prosecution but is much lower than during a trial. The prosecutor must only show that a crime occurred and the accused individual most likely committed it.