What is the difference between an arraignment and a preliminary hearing?

Preliminary hearings and arraignments both occur before your trial, but have different purposes. The preliminary hearing is where the judge decides if there is enough evidence mounted against you for you to stand trial. The arraignment is where you can file your plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. It is not necessary for you to have a preliminary hearing; it is your right to waive it.

If you do decide to have the preliminary hearing then the prosecution must provide enough probably cause to try you for what you’ve been charged with. They must show that what happened was a crime and that you committed it. This won’t be an example of their entire case against you; they just need to show “probable cause” which is considered a low level of proof.

Certain types of evidence that would not be allowed at the trial are allowed at preliminary hearings. Hearsay for example, is allowed as well as any evidence gathered from the scene. In the actual court case, the prosecutor would not be allowed to submit evidence based on hearsay and would also have to show that any evidence gathered against you was done so in a legal way.

Your arraignment can happen immediately after the preliminary hearing or scheduled for a later date. This is where the judge will inform you of your charges and you will enter your plea. It’s important that you and your Miami criminal defense attorney have already discussed what plea you intend to enter, either Guilty, Not Guilty, or No Contest.

It is important to have a qualified Miami criminal defense lawyer with you during all of your criminal proceedings including a preliminary hearing and arraignment.

Contacting a Miami Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you are facing criminal charges in South Florida, your legal team is your best defense. Contact the attorneys at Falk & Ross to discuss your case – 877-663-5110.