Probable-Cause Hearing

A probable-cause hearing is a procedure to determine if there is enough evidence to allow the case to go forward. "Probable cause" is another way of saying that it is reasonably likely that the defendant committed the crime charged.

A probable-cause hearing can be an opportunity to obtain evidence that may be used at trial. There are many reasons to demand a probable-cause hearing and just as many reasons to waive it. Mike or Joel will be able to provide guidance as to which option is best in your case.

You are entitled to a probable-cause hearing within 15 working days after your first appearance. This can be delayed upon a showing of good cause. (North Carolina General Statute § 15A-606(d)).

The State must show at a probable cause hearing that the crime charged was committed and that it was committed by the defendant. It is important to remember that the burden on the State in a probable-cause hearing is much lower than at trial. The State must show through nonhearsay evidence, or evidence that falls under a valid hearsay exception. Specific hearsay evidence is admissible in a probable-cause hearing under North Carolina General Statute § 15A-611(b)(1) and (2). The judge is not required to exclude evidence that was unlawfully obtained. (North Carolina General Statute § 15A-611(b).

The attorneys at Macht & Schechet, PLLC, can help you determine if demanding or waiving a probable-cause hearing is the best decision in your case. If you demand a probable-cause hearing, we will be able to help you safeguard your constitutional rights and make strategic decisions that could help your case after the probable-cause hearing.

Even if probable cause is found, you may still be found not guilty at trial. At trial, the State must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt, and the probable-cause hearing could provide valuable insight into the State's evidence.

It is also important to remember that a probable cause hearing may not be the best place to address a potential defense you may have. The only issue the Court is considering at a probable cause hearing is whether or not sufficient evidence exists, in the light most favorable to the State, to allow the case to proceed forward. You should discuss with Mike or Joel the benefits or detriments of having a probable cause hearing.