Georgia Pretrial Hearings & Bond Hearings
Do you have an upcoming pretrial hearing in your criminal case? The most important parts of a criminal proceeding often occur before trial. To maximize your chances of success, you need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer that can represent you from the very first steps in your case—during pretrial hearings, preliminary hearings, and other pretrial matters.
The attorneys at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ provide criminal defense representation for those accused of driving under the influence (DUI), drug offenses (like marijuana possession or distribution), serious traffic violations, alcohol-related offenses, and other criminal charges. Call us today to schedule a FREE legal consultation about your pretrial legal strategy. (770) 956-4030
What is pretrial litigation?
Aggressive legal advocacy requires a defendant’s constitutional rights to be defended starting immediately after arrest and all the way through trial—a process that can last months. Pretrial litigation is a critical part of the process because it allows an attorney to use the “pretrial” period to test the conduct of the officers, challenge the arresting procedures, seek bond, and uphold your constitutional rights against the prosecution. Sometimes law enforcement officers or state attorneys cross the line during the investigation, arrest process, or prosecution of the case. In these instances, it is possible that the case will be dismissed, even if a crime was committed. Holding law enforcement and prosecutors accountable to the Constitution is a critical element of a sound criminal defense strategy. Ensuring a defendant’s constitutional rights are protected every step of the way is the most important part of the criminal defense process.
Preliminary hearings on criminal matters are usually held within 2 weeks of arrest and generally take place at a local courthouse, like a municipal court or superior court. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is probable cause for charges against the defendant and whether there is sufficient evidence to bring the matter before a jury. Basically, at a preliminary hearing, the judge decides if there is enough evidence for the case to move forward.
Preliminary hearings are held for both misdemeanor and felony crimes in Georgia. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution may present evidence in support of the charges, and in response, you have the right to question the prosecutor’s evidence and cross-examine any witnesses. If the judge decides that there is not enough evidence for a jury to hear the case, then the case will be dismissed. The preliminary hearing is a pivotal moment in your criminal case. After arrest, you should consult an attorney about how to proceed with your preliminary hearing.
Bond allows a criminal defendant to avoid detention or jail time prior to trial. Bond acts like a security deposit, so that the defendant promises to show up in court at a later date. The court will set bond based on a number of factors, like the defendant’s flight risk and whether the defendant will pose a threat to the community. There are many types of bonds in Georgia: cash bonds, property bonds, surety bonds (posted by a bail bond company), own-recognizance bonds, and signature bonds.
Defendants have multiple opportunities to request bond. First, they can request bond at the initial appearance, which occurs within 72 hours of arrest. Next, they can request bond at the preliminary hearing. Finally, if bond is denied at the preliminary hearing, the defendant may request an additional bond hearing. To navigate this complex process, a criminal defense lawyer at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ can represent you in Georgia bond hearings.
Pretrial Motions and Pretrial Hearings
Before a criminal trial, there is significant back-and-forth between the prosecution and the defendant. During these early stages of a criminal case, the parties argue about whether certain evidence should be admissible at trial and whether proper legal procedures were followed. Pretrial motions are your best opportunity to exclude unfair evidence and to assert your constitutional rights in the criminal justice system. There are many types of pretrial motions that may require a pretrial hearing before the judge:
- Demand for a Speedy Trial: All criminal defendants have the right to a speedy trial, without unnecessary delays by the prosecution. Under both the United States Constitution and Georgia law, you can demand that a criminal case be dismissed if it is not pursued within a reasonable time. There is no magic formula of days, months, or years for when this right is violated. Instead, a violation of the right to a speedy trial is based on factors like the length of the delay and the harm to the defendant. From DUI cases to drug offenses, the right to a speedy trial is highly fact intensive. Make sure you consult an attorney about how this process works.
- Motions to Suppress Evidence: Before criminal evidence is presented against you, you have the opportunity to submit a motion to exclude (or suppress) evidence. There are many potential grounds to challenge the admissibility of evidence: (i) that the police engaged in a bad stop that violated your Fourth Amendment right against unfair searches and seizures, (ii) that the police violated your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights by failing to read your Miranda rights, (iii) that police improperly or inaccurately conducted a chemical test during a DUI stop, or (iv) that there is another basis for questioning the validity or constitutionality of evidence. If you want to challenge criminal evidence against you, team up with a trusted criminal defense attorney at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™.
- Motion for the Release of Evidence: Are the police and prosecutors lying? In the event that police have evidence that exonerates you from a crime, you could have the right to file a “Brady motion” for its release. From dashcam footage to witness testimony, Georgia law requires police to turn over evidence that proves your innocence. Upon the filing of a Brady motion, the prosecution may be ordered to release exculpatory evidence that proves your innocence. To understand how law enforcement might work against you or hide favorable evidence, a criminal defense attorney can represent you in drafting a motion for the release of evidence.
- Other Pretrial Matters: There are countless possibilities for the legal challenges that could be addressed prior to trial. Other pretrial motions and pretrial hearings might include motions to recuse (in the event that the judge is biased against you) and motions for a change of venue (in the event that you cannot receive a fair trial in a certain judicial district). Settlement negotiations and plea bargains will also be handled before trial. For more information about pretrial criminal matters in Georgia, contact the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ today.
Pretrial Criminal Litigation in Georgia
The criminal justice system kicks in immediately after arrest. As your case moves through different stages, you have the right to challenge evidence against you, seek dismissal of the charges, challenge the conduct of law enforcement officers, and seek bond. Pretrial litigation is a critical part of your defense—starting at the moment you are placed in handcuffs.
At Fennell, Briasco & Associates™, our job is to hold law enforcement accountable. We help clients across Georgia in developing a comprehensive defense strategy that maximizes the chances of freedom. Defending your constitutional rights is no easy task, but our team of criminal defense attorneys has the experience to represent you. If you believe that you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Fennell, Briasco, & Associates™ today for a FREE legal consultation.