Hearing – a judicial session, usually open to the public, held for the purpose of deciding issues of fact or of law, sometimes with witnesses testifying

     This page is continued from >>>> Court Proceedings >>>> Criminal Proceedings >>>> Phases of a Criminal Court Proceedings:



1. A judicial session, usually open to the public, held for the purpose of deciding issues of fact or of law, sometimes with witnesses testifying <the court held a hearing on the admissibility of DNA evidence in the murder case>. — aka judicial hearing.

2. In legislative practice, any proceeding in which legislators or their designees receive testimony about legislation that might be enacted <the shooting victim spoke at the Senate’s hearing on gun control>.

3. Equity practice. A trial.

4. English law. ORAL ARGUMENT. [1]

1. A term originating in equity but almost as familiar in present-day law actions.  A prerequisite to a finding of facts.  Re Anderson, 191 Or 49, 229 P2d 633, 2301’2d 770, 29 ALR2d 1051, 1073.

A constitutional right of one accused of crime. 21 Am J 2d Crim L § 309.

An essential of due process of law. Denver v State Invest. Co. 49 Colo 244. 112 P 789.

The presentation and consideration of proofs and arguments, and determinative action with respect to the issue. Re Enger, 225 Minn 229, 30 NW2d 694, 1 ALR2d 1048; Handlon v Belleville, 4 NJ 99, 71 A2d 624, 16 ALR2d 1118.

Either an interlocutory hearing, the purpose of which is to get the case into such shape that it may, in the end, be properly heard and finally adjudicated on the merits, or the final hearing in which the case is absolutely determined. 27 Am J2d Equity § 235.

The presentation of a case or defense before an administrative agency, with opportunity to introduce evidence in chief and on rebuttal, and to cross-examine witnesses, as may be required for a full and true disclosure of the facts. 2 Am J2d Admin L § 397.

An arbitration at which the arbitrators are present to hear the persons whose rights are affected, such persons having been given notice and opportunity to be heard. 5 Am J2d Arb & A § 122.

Where statute provides for a “hearing,” the term necessarily implies the power to administer some adequate remedy. 
See Adams v Shelbyville, 154 Ind 467, 57 NE 114.
See final hearing; rehearing; rehearing on appeal; trial. [2]

1. A proceeding in which evidence is introduced and witnesses are examined so that findings of fact can be made and a determination rendered.  Although, in a general sense, all trials can be said to be hearings, not all hearings are trials.  The difference is in the degree of formality each requires, with the rules of procedure being more relaxed in hearings.
     A hearing may be conducted by a court, an administrative agency, arbitrator, or a committee of the legislature, as well as by many other public bodies. 
See administrative hearing; fair hearing; final hearing; public hearing; rehearing. [3]

Various Types of Hearings:



 interlocutory hearing:

Any hearing for the purpose, not of an ultimate determination and final adjudication, but to obtain a presentation of the case in such a form that it may, in the end, be properly heard and adjudicated finally on the merits. 27 Am J2d Eq § 235. [2]

Types of Hearings
Pertaining solely to Evidence:

audibility hearing (1973) A pretrial or in-chambers assessment of whether an audio recording will be understandable by to jurors without their undue speculation about its content.

evidentiary hearing (1952) 1. A hearing at which evidence is presented, as opposed to a hearing at which only legal argument is presented.  2. See ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING.

exclusionary hearing (1963) A pretrial hearing conducted to review and determine the admissibility of alleged illegally obtained evidence.

Types of Hearings
Pertaining solely to Criminal Law:

preliminary hearing – any number of “Probable Cause Hearings” to determine if there’s sufficient evidence to hold trial, or if any evidence ought be suppressed due to 4th Amendment violation:. — aka preliminary examination; probable-cause hearing; bindover hearing; examining trial; felony hearing.

  • Mapp hearing – held to determine whether evidence implicating the accused was obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure, and should therefore be suppressed.

Types of Hearings
pertaining solely to Witnesses:

deposition hearing –  A witness’s out-of-court testimony under oath before a judge or officer of the court, usually given because the witness will be unable to attend proceedings in court.


bifurcated hearing (1951) A multipart (especially a two-part) hearing, the first part of which is to establish one requirement and the second part of which is to establish another, etc.  *  In a Wade hearing (see WADE HEARING), for example, it may be necessary to establish either a lack of suggestiveness in a lineup or an independent source for the identification.  Only if the first (lack of suggestiveness) is not established will the second (independent source of identification) become necessary.  Some judges refer to such a two-stage hearing as “bifurcated.”


conformity hearing  (1970) 1. A court-ordered hearing to determine whether the judgment or decree prepared by the prevailing party conforms to the decision of the court.  2. A hearing before a federal agency or department or determine whether a state-submitted plan complies with the requirements of federal law.  *  This type of hearing is common in cases involving social services.

contested hearing (1872) A hearing in which at least one of the parties has objections regarding one or more matters before the court.

Curcio hearing A hearing conducted when an attorney has an apparent conflict of interest so that the defendant may choose whether to make an informed, knowing, and intelligent waiver of the right to conflict-free counsel. US. v. Curcio, 680 F.2d 881, 888 (2d Cir. 1982).

Daubert hearing –  conducted by federal district courts, usually before trial, to determine whether proposed expert testimony meets the federal requirements for relevance and reliability.  Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786 (1993).


directions hearing A hearing at which the court reviews the management of a case and sets the timetable for the next steps in the preparation for trial.


full hearing (17c) 1. A hearing at which the parties are allowed notice of each other’s claims and are given ample opportunity to present their positions with evidence and argument.  2. See ADMINISTRATIVE PR0CEEDING.

guardianship hearing – A hearing at which a court determines whether a person or the person’s estate needs to be protected by a third party because the person is a minor or is unable to manage his or her affairs because of incapacity.

hearing de novo (18c) 1. A reviewing court’s decision of a matter anew, giving no deference to a lower court’s findings. 2. A new hearing of a matter, conducted as if the original hearing had not taken place.

hearing on the merits (18c) A formal proceeding before a judge who hears testimony under the rules of evidence and makes a final decision in the case.

Jackson-Denno hearing –  (1965) A court proceeding, held outside the jury’s presence to determine whether the defendant’s confession was voluntary and therefore admissible as evidence. Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 84 S.Ct. 1774 (1964). — aka Jackson v. Denno hearing.


presentence hearing –  See PRESENTENCE HEARING.

pretrial hearing  See PRETRIAL CONFERENCE.

public hearing (18c) A hearing that, within reasonable limits, is open to anyone who wishes to observe.  *  Such a hearing is often characterized by the right to appear and present evidence in a case before impartial tribunal.



sentencing hearing –  See PRESENTENCE HEARING.


trial-type hearing  See ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING.

uncontested hearing (1926) A hearing in which either

(1) the parties are in agreement as to all matters before the court, or
(2) one of the parties has failed to appear despite notice.

unfair hearing (1915) A hearing that is not conducted in accordance with due process, as when the defendant is denied the opportunity to prepare or consult with counsel.

Wade hearing –  See WADE HEARING.

Youngblood hearing (1981) A hearing to determine the circumstances in which evidence was destroyed. Arizona v, Youngblood, 488 U. S 51 (1998) See SPOLIATION.

hearing examiner  See ADMINISTRATIVE-LAW JUDGE. [1]

1. The title of the person ho functions as a judge with respect to an administrative hearing.  In some cases, and in the federal system, the title of administrative law judge is used instead. [3]

hearing officer (1925) 1. ADMINISTRATIVE-LAW JUDGE.  2. See judicial officer (3) under OFFICER (1). [1]

1. An examiner in an administrative proceeding, similar to an auditor or Special master in a plenary action. 2 Am J2d Admin L §407. [2]

1. Same as hearing examiner, although in some circumstances, a hearing officer, unlike a hearing examiner, does not have the powers to adjudicate, her authority being limited to making recommendations to the appropriate administrative agency.
     See administrative law judge. [3]

Types of Hearing pertaining to
Cases involving Motor Vehicles:

fatality hearing (2005) A public-safety proceeding, often held before an administrative-law judge of the department of motor vehicles, to determine the cause of a traffic death and to consider the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license.  Cf. SAFETY HEARING.


Types of Hearings pertaining to Family Law:

adjudication hearing – 1. In child-abuse and neglect proceedings, the trial stage at which the court hears the state’s allegations and evidence and decides whether the state has the right to intervene on behalf of the child. 3. In a juvenile-delinquency case, a hearing at which the court hears evidence of the charges and makes a finding of whether the charges are true or not true. — aka adjudicatory hearing; adjudicatory proceeding; adjudicative hearing.

custody hearing (1935) Family law. A judicial examination of the facts relating to child custody, typically in a divorce or separation proceeding.  *  Child-neglect and dependency matters are also often dealt with in custody hearings. — aka custody proceeding.

detention hearing – 1. Family law. A hearing held by a juvenile court to determine whether a juvenile accused of delinquent conduct should be detained, continued in confinement, or released pending an adjudicatory hearing.  Cf. adjudication hearing; disposition hearing. 3. See shelter hearing.

disposition hearing (1960) Family law. 1. In child. abuse and neglect proceedings, after an adjudication hearing at which the state proves its allegations, a hearing at which the court hears evidence and enters orders for the child’s care, custody, and control.  *  Typically, the judge determines a plan for services aimed at reunifying or rehabilitating the family.  2. In a juvenile delinquency case, after an adjudication hearing at which the state proves its case against the juvenile or after a juvenile’s pleading true to the charges against him, a hearing at which the court determines what sanctions, if any, will be imposed on the juvenile.  *  At a disposition hearing, the court balances the best interests of the child against the need to sanction the child for his or her actions. If the juvenile is adjudicated a delinquent, the probation staff prepares a social history of the youth and his family and recommends a disposition.  After reviewing the social history and various recommendations, the court enters a disposition.  Among the possible juvenile sanctions are a warning, probation, restitution, counseling, or placement in’a juvenile-detention facility.  Probation is the most common sanction. — aka dispositional hearing.  3. See permanency hearing.

permanency hearing (1832) Family law. Under the Adoption and Safe Families Act, a judicial proceeding to determine the future, permanent status of a child in foster care.  *  Under the Act, the term permanency hearing replaces the term disposition hearing. The permanency hearing must occur within 12 months of a child’s being placed in foster care.  The purpose of the hearing is to determine the final direction of the case, whether that means going forward with termination proceedings or continuing plans for family reunification. — aka permanency-planning hearing.

neglect hearing (1952) Family law. A judicial hearing involving alleged child abuse or some other situation in which a child has not been properly cared for by a parent or person legally responsible for the child’s care.  *  At issue is the civil culpability of the parent or responsible party and the possible loss of children into foster care or in extreme cases — the termination of parental rights.

review hearing Family law. After a finding of child abuse or neglect, a hearing to assess the progress in the case plan.  See CASE PLAN.~

shelter hearing (1975) Family law. A hearing shortly after the state’s removal of a child for suspected abuse or neglect.  *  The hearing, generally held within 24 to 72 hours after the removal, is for the purpose of determining whether the state has adequate cause to maintain the children in protective care. — aka shelter-care hearing; continued-custody hearing; preliminary protective hearing; probable-cause hearing; detention hearing; dependency hearing.

termination-of-parental-rights hearing (1973) Family law. A trial or court proceeding, usually initiated by a state agency, that seeks to sever the legal ties between a parent and child, usually so that the child can be adopted.  *  The standard of proof in a termination-of-parental-rights hearing is clear and convincing evidence. Santasky v. Kramer, 455 US. 745. 102 S.Ct. 1388 (1982). — Abbr. TPR hearing. — Often shortened to termination hearing.

Types of Administrative Hearings:

hearing Administrative law. Any setting in which an affected person presents arguments to a decision-maker <a hearing on zoning variations>.

administrative proceeding(1841) A hearing, inquiry, investigation, or trial before an administrative agency, usually adjudicatory in nature, but sometimes quasi-legislative. — aka evidentiary hearing; full hearing; trial-type hearing; agency adjudication.

adjudication hearing (1947) 1. Administrative law. An agency proceeding in which a person’s rights and duties are decided after notice and an opportunity to be heard. See procedural due process.  Cf. disposition hearing. 

Hearings pertaining to Bankruptcy Cases:

discharge hearing –  (1927) Bankruptcy. A hearing at which the court informs the debtor either that a discharge has been granted or the reasons why a discharge has not been granted. 

reaffirmation hearing –  (1979) Bankruptcy. A hearing at which the debtor and a creditor present a reaffirmation of a dischargeable debt for the court’s approval.  *  The reaffirmation hearing is usually held simultaneously with the discharge hearing.


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


Back to Types of Pleas (criminal law)

Back to Types of Pleas and Pleadings

Back to Criminal Law Self-Help

Home Page

Like this website?

Please Support Our Fundraiser

or donate via PayPal:


Disclaimer: Wild Willpower does not condone the actions of Maximilian Robespierre, however the above quote is excellent!

This website is being broadcast for First Amendment purposes courtesy of

Question(s)?  Suggestion(s)?
We look forward to hearing from you!