What is a preliminary hearing?
In Virginia, there are 2 types of criminal charges, misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are more serious in nature and carry a higher penalty in terms of greater fines or longer imprisonment. Defendants charged with felonies have a right to a preliminary hearing where the prosecutor must prove to the court that there is enough evidence to show that a crime has been committed (known as "probable cause") and that the defendant is the person who most likely committed that crime.

A preliminary hearing is a scheduled court date, similar to the trial, the judge, defendant, defendant’s attorney, prosecutor, and all subpoenaed victim(s) and witness(es) are present. However, the prosecutor will put on only enough evidence to justify further proceedings against the defendant. If the prosecutor establishes probable cause, the case is certified to the next Grand Jury and the case is set for trial at a later date.

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1. What cases does the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office prosecute?
2. How do I find out information about a case?
3. Can I drop charges?
4. What should I do if I receive a subpoena for court and I have a conflict with the court date?
5. What should I know before I testify?
6. What is a preliminary hearing?
7. Can children be subpoenaed to testify in court?
8. I can't identify the defendant. Why did I receive a subpoena?
9. What should I do if the defendant's attorney contacts me?
10. What happens if someone threatens me to drop the charges or not testify?