Explore the right to a preliminary examination and the role of the grand jury
A preliminary hearing may not be held in every criminal case in which a “not guilty” plea is entered. Some states conduct preliminary hearings only when a felony is charged, and other states utilize a “grand jury indictment” process in which a designated group of citizens decides whether, based on the government’s evidence, the case should proceed to trial. Last but not least, the possibility always exists that any time prior to the preliminary hearing a criminal case will be resolved through a plea bargain between the government and the defendant.
A Grand Jury determines whether there is enough evidence for the trial. Grand juries carry out this duty by examining evidence presented to them by the prosecution, and issuing indictments, or by investigating alleged crimes and issuing, presentments. A grand jury is traditionally larger and more distinguishable from a petit jury, which is used during trial. Both of these are good for both parties because it gives a chance for both parties to see what evidence and figure out how the state is going to proceed. The DA must only present enough evidence to convince a judge that he has enough evidence to go to court.
The Defense may not know if the DA has much more damning evidence in the future, so it can be unknown to the Defense and be a guessing game. It offers a chance for a judge or jury to decide if the case merits going to trial, and if it doen’t then the defendant is released. But if there is very good evidence, and the Defense realizes that they perceive that the Prosecution has very good evidence, then it is a chance to plea bargain, in which both parties may wish to do, in order to avoid drawing out proceedings.