What Happens at the DUI Preliminary Hearing in Delaware County?

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If you were arrested for a DUI in Delaware County, PA, but were released the same night without seeing a judge, you may be wondering what happens next. After your release, you will be notified of the formal charges by a summons. The summons will be mailed to you from the magisterial district court in the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred.

Two summons will be mailed to your home – one first class mail and the second will be mailed certified mail. Both sets of documents are the same although one will require you (or someone in the household) to sign for the document.

After a DUI arrest in Delaware County, PA, the summons will arrive in approximately 1-2 weeks after an arrest. It might take longer than two weeks in some cases depending on which agency made the arrest. Included in the summons will be a preliminary hearing date and copy of the criminal complaint that outlines the charges and allegations against you.

If you were not processed, i.e. fingerprinted, the night you were arrested there will also be an Order from the court directing you to be processed by the arresting police department. This means that you will have to make arraignments to go to the police department to be fingerprinted ahead of your preliminary hearing.

The actual date of the hearing can depend on several factors, including:

  1. The judges’s schedule;
  2. The officer’s schedule; and
  3. Whether you submit to a blood or breath test, or refused chemical testing.

The Scheduling of Preliminary Hearing in Different Types of DUI Cases

DUI cases with a blood test reading will be scheduled out about 6 weeks after the arrest since the lab report will not be available for at least four weeks. Breath test results are known immediately, so drunk driving cases involving a breathalyzer reading are scheduled much sooner. Since there is no BAC report in refusal cases, the court also schedules those types of DUI cases within a couple of weeks.

Generally, preliminary hearings are listed in morning. Before arriving at the preliminary hearing, you and your attorney should already have discussed your options and intention ahead of time. In some circumstances it may be advisable to waive the preliminary hearing. For instance, to apply for ARD in Delaware County, PA, you must waive the hearing as a condition to apply for the program.

In other cases, it may be advisable to have the hearing. At a prelim, it is the prosecutor’s burden to call witnesses and to present evidence. Since the preliminary hearing is not a trial, not all the rules of evidence apply. For instance, certain types of hearsay are admissible. And credibility of witnesses is not relevant, so the judge must accept the testimony of witnesses against you as true. For this reason, it is generally not advisable to call clients as a witness in their own case since the judge will not consider it if only offered to contradict the Commonwealth’s witnesses.

At the end of the hearing, the magistrate judge must make a determination of whether the Commonwealth has presented what is known as a “primia facia case.” A prima facia case means that there is “some evidence” of a crime and that you are connected to it.

At this stage, the prosecutor doesn’t have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge determines that the prosecutor has met its burden, the judge will hold the charge over for trial at the Court of Common Pleas in Delaware County, PA. All subsequent court appearance will also be held at the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas at the courthouse at 201 W Front St # 123 in Media, PA.

The last matter that will be address by the judge is bail. The purpose of bail is to secure your appearance for trial and to provide for the protection of the community. A judge may release you on recognizance (ROR Bail), unsecured bail, or require some form of security or cash bail. Generally speaking, if you are facing a first offense for driving under the influence (DUI), you will not be required post any money unless there is some aggravating circumstances involved in your case.

Additional Resources

List of the Magisterial District Courts in Delaware County – Visit the Delaware County Government website to find a list of the Magisterial District Courts in Delaware County which was last updated on December 1, 2015. Also find contact information for the Administrative Office for District Judges is located at 100 West Front Street, Media, Pennsylvania 19063-3504. The phone number or the Administrative Office is 610-565-6990. Note that some municipalities are served by more than one Court.

Conclusion

If you were arrested for a DUI cases in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, then contact an experienced drunk driving defense attorney. With offices conveniently located in Media, PA, in Delaware County, Michael Skinner is experienced in fighting DUI cases throughout Delaware County, Chester County and the surrounding areas in Pennsylvania.

Whether your case involves a breath or blood test reading over the legal limit of .08 or a refusal to submit to chemical test, Attorney Michael Skinner has the experience needed to fight your case. Call today to schedule a free consultation either over the phone or in the office. We can begin your defense today.

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