Attorney Mark Almanza had recent charges of Obstruction of Justice and Mob Action dismissed after the preliminary hearing. Prior to the court ruling, prosecutors were attempting to link my client to the tragic shooting death of a young teenager. Attorney Almanza had previously addressed reporters outside of the courtroom shortly after the bond hearing.
It is important to understand that a preliminary hearing is an opportunities to have a case dismissed. If the case is dismissed, it is generally over without the long burden of a trial. In this case, although the evidence was clear that my client was not involved, prosecutors still charged her. Fortunately, we were able to have the matter resolved quickly.
The United States Constitution guarantees due process. It requires an indictment by grand jury or a preliminary hearing before a defendant can be compelled to proceed to a trial. The state can choose to indict by a grand jury instead of having preliminary hearing. Unlike a preliminary hearing, the defendant does not have a right to be present before the grand jury.
A preliminary hearing is the first court appearance after bond court. The prosecutors only have to prove that the accused likely committed the crime that is being charge where a judge decides if there is a finding of probable cause. At a preliminary hearing, the rules are different than a trial and the goals are different. A finding of probable cause does not mean the accused is guilty. It only means that the state can continue to the next stage, which is arraignment.
A preliminary hearing offers the defense an opportunity to examine the state's evidence. And as in this case, if it is insufficient to find probable cause, the case will be dismissed.