What is a preliminary hearing?
A preliminary hearing is where the State must prove to a neutral magistrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, and that there is probable cause to believe that the accused committed the offense. This burden of proof must be met for the case to continue into District Court. The burden of proof, probable cause, is lower than required at a trial. At trial, the State has the burden of proving every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.