Demystifying Preliminary Hearings in Mississippi: A Q&A with Criminal Defense Attorney Matt Eichelberger

Demystifying Preliminary Hearings in Mississippi: A Q&A with Criminal Defense Attorney Matt Eichelberger

Navigating the intricacies of the criminal justice system can be a daunting task, especially for those facing criminal charges. In an effort to empower individuals with knowledge, we sat down with criminal defense attorney Matt Eichelberger of the Eichelberger Law Firm in Jackson, Mississippi, to address a common question: "What is a preliminary hearing?"

Understanding the Essence of Preliminary Hearings

A preliminary hearing is a crucial proceeding held exclusively in felony cases. During this hearing, the prosecution bears the responsibility of demonstrating probable cause, essentially establishing a reasonable belief that a crime was committed and that the defendant is the perpetrator.

The Procedural Framework

Governed by Rule 6 of the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure, a preliminary hearing must be granted within 14 days of filing a demand for such a hearing. There are exceptions to this rule, but those are beyond the scope of a blog post.

Dual Objectives for the Defense

While the prosecution aims to establish probable cause, the defense typically pursues two primary objectives during a preliminary hearing:

  1. Bond Reduction: If the defendant remains in custody, a preliminary hearing presents an opportunity to seek a bond reduction, potentially lowering the financial barrier to pretrial release.

  2. Gaining Insights into the Prosecution's Case: This hearing serves as the defense's best chance to observe the state's witnesses testify and engage in cross-examination before trial. This valuable information allows the defense to formulate a strategic approach.

A Strategic Opportunity for the Defense

In rare instances, the defense may choose to present its own witnesses to challenge probable cause or weaken the prosecution's case. However, Attorney Eichelberger highlights that the typical scenario involves the prosecution presenting a single witness, followed by arguments regarding probable cause and bond.

Stay Informed and Empowered

Attorney Eichelberger's insights provide valuable guidance for those facing criminal charges in Mississippi. By understanding the purpose and procedure of preliminary hearings, individuals can make informed decisions and effectively navigate the legal process.

Stay tuned for more informative legal Q&A sessions with Attorney Matt Eichelberger.

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