What is a Preliminary Hearing in Utah?

Photo: Joe Gratz

In Utah, when a person is charged with a felony or a Class A Misdemeanor they must appear before the court in a preliminary hearing (persons charged with class B Misdemeanors or lower do not have preliminary hearings).  At this hearing, a judge will listen to the testimony of witnesses and look at evidence to determine if there is probable cause that a crime was committed and whether there is probable cause that the defendant being charged in the person who committed the crime.

If the judge finds that there is no probable cause or there is insufficient evidence, the case against the defendant is dismissed (although prosecutors can amend the charge at the preliminary hearing).

If the judge finds that probable cause exists, the defendant is bound over for trial.  The next hearing that the defendant must appear at is arraignment.

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