21 Sep 23

Preliminary Hearings in Embezzlement and Grand Theft Cases

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Last Updated on: 29th September 2023, 09:23 am

Preliminary Hearings in Embezzlement and Grand Theft Cases

If you’ve been charged with embezzlement or grand theft, one of the first big hurdles you’ll face is the preliminary hearing. This hearing happens early on in the case, before the actual trial, and it’s where the prosecution has to show they have enough evidence to move forward with the charges against you. It may sound scary, but don’t panic – your defense attorney can use this hearing to your advantage.

Basically, in a preliminary hearing the prosecution has to prove there’s probable cause you committed the crime. That’s a pretty low bar – it just means a reasonable person would think you maybe did it based on the evidence. It’s not the same as proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt like they have to do at trial. So even if they meet the probable cause standard at the preliminary hearing, your attorney can still get you acquitted at trial.

How a Preliminary Hearing Works

In a preliminary hearing, the prosecution will call witnesses and present evidence to try to show probable cause. But your defense attorney gets to cross-examine their witnesses and object to evidence. This gives your attorney a chance to poke holes in their case early on and see how strong their evidence really is.

After hearing the evidence, the judge decides whether the prosecution met the probable cause standard. If not, the judge dismisses the charges and you walk free. But if the judge finds probable cause, the case moves ahead to trial. Even then, the preliminary hearing still gives your defense important information to start preparing your trial strategy.

Strategies for Preliminary Hearings

Experienced criminal defense attorneys use preliminary hearings to gain strategic advantages, like:

  • Learning details about the prosecution’s case and evidence.
  • Testing the credibility of prosecution witnesses through cross-examination.
  • Getting weak charges dismissed early to narrow the scope of the case.
  • Negotiating a favorable plea deal after exposing flaws in the prosecution’s case.

Your attorney may also choose to waive the preliminary hearing. They’ll do this if they feel the hearing won’t really help the defense or if they want to avoid revealing too much of their trial strategy early on. But in many cases, the benefits of cross-examining witnesses and hearing the prosecution’s evidence outweigh the risks.

What Happens After a Preliminary Hearing?

If charges are dismissed, great – case closed! If charges move forward, there are a few options:

  • Your attorney may negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor to avoid trial.
  • The prosecution may choose to present the case to a grand jury instead of going to trial.
  • The case proceeds to trial before a judge or jury.

During a grand jury proceeding, the prosecution presents evidence and witnesses to show probable cause, just like in a preliminary hearing. But there is no defense attorney present. If the grand jury finds probable cause, they issue an indictment moving the case forward to trial. So defendants often prefer preliminary hearings to grand juries since their attorney can participate and advocate for them.

Fighting Embezzlement and Theft Charges

Even with strong evidence, an experienced white collar crime attorney can often get charges reduced or dismissed completely in preliminary hearings and grand jury proceedings. Some effective strategies include:

  • Challenging improper police procedures that violated your rights.
  • Suppressing evidence that was obtained illegally.
  • Presenting evidence of your innocence that refutes the prosecution’s claims.
  • Argue the prosecution is abusing their power and harassing you.
  • Negotiating with the prosecution to reduce or drop charges.

But the best thing you can do is hire a knowledgeable attorney as soon as charges are filed. Having a lawyer represent you early in the process can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.

What to Expect in Preliminary Hearings

If you’re facing a preliminary hearing for embezzlement, theft, or other financial crime charges, here’s what you can expect:

  • The hearing will be held within a few weeks of your arrest at the courthouse.
  • The judge will hear the prosecution’s evidence and arguments first.
  • Your defense attorney can cross-examine witnesses and object to evidence.
  • Your attorney may also introduce evidence and call witnesses to rebut the charges.
  • The judge will decide if there is probable cause to move forward based on the evidence presented.
  • If probable cause is found, you will be formally charged and arraigned.
  • Then your attorney can negotiate a plea deal, or start preparing your defense for trial.

Having an experienced white collar crime lawyer represent you during the preliminary hearing can make all the difference. Don’t go it alone against seasoned prosecutors – get help fighting the charges from a knowledgeable attorney.

Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Case

If you or a loved one is facing embezzlement or theft charges, it’s critical to have an assertive defense lawyer on your side early on. Look for an attorney with extensive experience handling financial crime cases in your state. Key signs of a great embezzlement lawyer include:

  • Deep knowledge of state embezzlement and theft laws.
  • A proven record of positive case results.
  • Skill at negotiating with prosecutors.
  • Ability to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
  • Excellent litigation skills for preliminary hearings and trials.
  • Creative legal strategies to get charges reduced or dismissed.
  • Compassion and commitment to their clients.

Don’t leave your fate in the hands of an overworked public defender. Hire a tenacious private attorney who will fight relentlessly to defend your rights, freedom and reputation.

The Outlook for White Collar Defendants

While any criminal charges are deeply concerning, the legal landscape has been shifting in favor of white collar defendants recently. Public attitudes toward non-violent financial crimes have softened. And more judges and prosecutors are recognizing that punitive measures often do more harm than good in these cases.

Progressive new diversion programs, deferred sentencing agreements, and specialty courts provide alternatives to harsh sentences for first-time and low-level offenders. Forward-thinking jurisdictions emphasize restitution over incarceration. And new legislation offers judges more flexibility in sentencing white collar criminals.

So if you’re facing embezzlement or theft charges, know that all hope is not lost. An experienced attorney can often negotiate a reasonable outcome that avoids years behind bars. With their counsel and guidance, you can move past this difficult chapter and get your life back on track.


Facing embezzlement or theft charges is scary. But with an assertive defense lawyer on your side, you can successfully navigate preliminary hearings and come out with your freedom intact. An experienced attorney can exploit weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, get bogus charges dropped, and negotiate a favorable resolution. Don’t go it alone against the power of the state – get a tough litigator in your corner and fight to clear your name.