The preliminary examination (prelim) is a hearing in front of a District Court Judge to determine if there is probable cause to believe that a crime occurred within the jurisdiction of the District Court, and probable cause to believe that the defendant committed that offense. The defendant has 14 days from their arrest to hold their prelim. This timeframe can be extended for good cause by either the prosecutor or the defendant. Today, we discuss whether or not a prelim should be held, review the benefits and pitfalls of the exam and provide a tutorial of the subject matter from top criminal minds within the state of Michigan.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan, and has developed a law firm that is known as the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the prelim, Grabel was quoted as saying, “The prelim is the criminal equivalent of the deposition. It gives the criminal defense attorney the opportunity to test the merits of the case and see the strengths and weaknesses of the witnesses. Recently, we won a prelim in Ingham County which garnered a lot of attention, but the goal at the prelim is not always to win, it is a low threshold for the prosecutor to have their case bound over, instead, you should be looking to find weaknesses in the state’s case that can help your client obtain a favorable plea or win the case at trial.”
Matthew McManus runs Ann Arbor Legal PLLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and his firm has become one of the top criminal firms in our state. When asked about the prelim, McManus stated, “Knowing your audience is essential. What may work in Washtenaw County may not be the same strategy to employ in Shiawassee County. Knowledge of your District and Circuit Court is what you should know when approaching this subject. If your client is not incarcerated, it’s best to waive the 14-day timeframe because it will give the attorney more time to study the matter. This is an issue we usually address at the arraignment. It is crucial to understand that in counties such as Lapeer or Macomb the prosecutor may want to run the prelim to preserve testimony. The prelim is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.”