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:

     This page is continued from Judicial Proceedings >>>> Criminal Proceedings >>>> Preliminary Hearing or Grand Jury Proceedings:


preliminary hearing:

1. Criminal procedure. A criminal hearing (often conducted by a magistrate) to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute an accused person; specifically, a proceeding before a judge or magistrate judge held soon after a criminal defendant is taken into custody, usually on felony charges, the typical prosecution having the burden  to establish reasonable cause to believe that the defendant has committed a felony.  *  If sufficient evidence exists, the case will be set for trial or bound over for grand-jury review, or an information will be filed in the trial court. — aka preliminary examination; probable-cause hearing; bindover hearing; examining trial; felony hearing. [1]

1. The hearing to which an accused is entitled on preliminary examination, leading to his commitment, his release on bail if the offense is bailable, or his discharge from custody for want of evidence to bind over him. 21 Am J2d Crim L §§ 449, 450

Not a “trial” within the meaning of a statute providing gorunds for change of venue. State ex rel. Hale v Marion County Municipal Court, 234 Ind 467, 127 NE2d 897.

A hearing in an eminent domain proceeding for the determination of questions respecting the right fo the petitioner to maintain the proceeding. 27 Am J2d Em D § 401. [2]

1. A hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to formally accuse a person fo a crime; that is, whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has been committed and for thinking the defendant committed it.  if the judge concludes that the evidence is sufficient to hold the defendant for trial, and if the offense is a bailable offense, the court sets bail.  If the judge concludes that the evidence is insufficient to bind the defendant over for trial, the defendant is discharged from custody.
     See binding over. [3]

preliminary examination:

1. A judicial inquiry to determine whether there is “probable cause” for an accusation for crime, the nature of which offense is thereby made known to the accused, the primary purpose being to ascertain whether there is reasonable ground to believe that crime has been committed and whether there is just cause to believe that the defendant charged by the accusation committed it. 21 Am J2d Crim L § 443. [2]

1. The examination that is the subject of a preliminary hearing. [3]

probable-cause hearing:

1. Criminal procedure. See PRELIMINARY HEARING.

2. Criminal procedure. Any of several types of pretrial hearings to suppress evidence.

probable cause – a reasonable amount of suspicions, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person’s belief that certain facts are probably true.

If Evidence was Illegally Seized:

fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree doctrine – The rule that evidence derived from an illegal search, arrest, or interrogation is inadmissible because the evidence (the “fruit”) was tainted by the illegality (the “poisonous tree”). — aka fruits doctrine.

inevitable-discovery (and primary-evidence) rule – evidence obtained indirectly from an illegal search is admissible, and the illegality of the search is harmless, if the evidence would have been obtained nevertheless in the ordinary course of police work. — aka inevitable-discovery doctrine; inevitable-disclosure doctrine.

Various Types of Probable Cause Hearings:

independent-source hearing – a hearing to determine whether evidence was obtained illegally, and if so, whether the evidence is admissible.

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.

fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree doctrine – The rule that evidence derived from an illegal search, arrest, or interrogation is inadmissible because the evidence (the “fruit”) was tainted by the illegality (the “poisonous tree”).


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.


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