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Criminal Procedures

The Criminal Process

Does a defendant have a right to a preliminary hearing in state court?

It depends on individual state law. Some states require preliminary hearings in most all cases. Other states require preliminary hearings in certain felony cases. For example, Colorado provides that all defendants charged with a class 1, 2, or 3 felony have a right to demand a preliminary hearing. In South Dakota, a defendant has a right to a preliminary hearing if charged with a felony or the most serious type of misdemeanor charge. The South Dakota law provides: “No defendant is entitled to a preliminary hearing unless charged with an offense punishable as a felony or class 1 misdemeanor.”



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