Georgia Committal Hearing / Probable Cause Hearing: What Occurs?September 7, 2011
A Committal Hearing is an initial hearing to determine whether a case should proceed to trial or be dismissed.
During the First Appearance hearing, the Magistrate Judge will ask if the person arrested is requesting or denying their right to a Committal Hearing; also known as a Probable Cause hearing. It is essentially a mini trial to determine whether there is enough evidence to move forward to a real trial.
1. Who Testifies: The prosecution will bring in the arresting officer or, potentially, the complaining victim to testify. The defendant has a right to testify, but generally exercise the right to not remain silent. Counsel for the defendant or the defendant, if not represented, will also have the chance to question witnesses. Generally, hearsay is allowable in a probable cause hearing.
2. What to Expect: The Judge will listen to the facts and in most cases will allow the case to go onto trial at a later day. However, in some rare cases, the judge may dismiss the charges or find probable cause on a lesser charge. This occurs when the State cannot meet the low burden of Probable Cause. A committal hearing generally last for about an hour.
3. A Loss Can Be a Win: Even if the Court finds that there is Probable Cause for the case to proceed, the conducting of the hearing may signal to the prosecutor that the State may not be able to prove their case at trial Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. An additional benefit for the defense is that the officer has put forth their version of events under oath.
At Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys, our Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys welcome any questions on Criminal Defense and Georgia DUI laws. Please Call or Email us with any questions, your initial consultation is free and confidential.
About the author: John Breakfield is a Georgia Lawyer with Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various DUI / DWI, Marijuana Arrests and other Georgia Criminal Defense matters. The law office of Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), White County (Cleveland), Barrow County (Auburn, Bethlehem, Braselton, Carl, Statham, Winder), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Gwinnett County (Buford, Duluth, Sugar Hill, Lawrenceville), Jackson County (Braselton, Commerce, Hoschton, Jefferson, Pendergrass), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), Clarke County (Athens) and all of Northeast Georgia.
This article and video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.