In last week’s post, we talked about the case of a well-respected dentist who charged with federal drug distribution offenses. Today, in the third and final part of our series on recent criminal defense cases in Pittsburgh, I’ll share with you a case currently in progress, where a Pittsburgh-area father faces charges of a sex crime, and why a preliminary hearing can be so important to a strong criminal defense.
Preliminary Hearings and Pittsburgh Family Man Facing Sexual Assault Charges
About three years ago, my client and his wife had employed a babysitter. She was approximately 15-years-old at the time, and after her job was done for the evening, my client drove her home. It was on this drive, the babysitter alleges, my client sexually-assaulted her. She waited two years to report this to anyone.
My client, of course, denies these charges, and the case will be on trial sometime in 2011.
The reason I bring this case up is because we recently had the preliminary hearing, and I want to emphasize why it is so important that individuals facing criminal charges do not waive this critical opportunity.
The preliminary hearing determines whether there’s sufficient evidence to hold a case for further court action. And while it’s very difficult to get a case dismissed at this proceeding, it does provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the case.
In this instance, the alleged victim was required to testify, and I had the chance to cross-examine her. Based upon that, I now know the entire case, and I can begin to map our strategy.
So I tell my clients just as I’m telling you now: never waive the preliminary hearing. Attend the preliminary hearing. Confront the witnesses. Learn about the evidence. And most importantly, have your own court reporter there to create a transcript of the testimony for later use at trial. The preliminary hearing can make an enormous difference to your case and is the difference between winning and losing.
–Stanton D. Levenson