This Thursday will be the first court appearance for an assault. What can we expect?

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This Thursday will be the first court appearance for an assault. What can we expect?

My husband and I and some family and friends were at a bar in SF. My husband was being followed around by two men that cornered him. It turned into a brawl and my husband and brother in law were arrested and charged with two felony counts of assault. According to the police, one of the two men was taken to the hospital and the other ran away. They were the ones that started the whole thing…and supposedly did not want to give their names. So will the charges be dropped???

Asked on April 14, 2009 under Criminal Law, California


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 14 years ago | Contributor

Is this the court appearance of preliminary hearing? You can expect proforma stuff unless your counsel can get this dismissed at preliminary hearing.  See this: Here is a brief description found online.  Further, ask yourself these questions: How did it start? Why were these two men cornering your husband and brother.  Did both parties exchange words or looks or something?  Also, keep in mind that a violent response to annoying behavior is not excusable or considered self defense unless there was a reasonable belief your husband and brother were going to be assaulted or battered. If they each don't have a lawyer, immediately contact a criminal defense attorney at, and check his or her background on   Further, though they may have a right to a public defender, remember public defenders have large caseloads.

Preliminary Hearing

Usually held soon after arraignment, a preliminary hearing is best described as a "trial before the trial" at which the judge decides, not whether the defendant is "guilty" or "not guilty," but whether there is enough evidence to force the defendant to stand trial. In making this determination, the judge uses the "probable cause" legal standard, deciding whether the government has produced enough evidence to convince a reasonable jury that the defendant committed the crime(s) charged.

What to Expect at the Preliminary Hearing

In reaching this probable cause decision, the judge listens to arguments from the government (through a government attorney, or "prosecutor"), and from the defendant (usually through his or her attorney). The prosecutor may call witnesses to testify, and can introduce physical evidence in an effort to convince the judge that the case should go to trial. The defense usually cross-examines the government's witnesses and calls into question any other evidence presented against the defendant, seeking to convince the judge that the prosecutor's case is not strong enough, so that the case against the defendant must be dismissed before trial.

Preliminary Hearing -- Not in Every Case

A preliminary hearing may not be held in every criminal case in which a "not guilty" plea is entered. Some states conduct preliminary hearings only when a felony is charged, and other states utilize a "grand jury indictment" process in which a designated group of citizens decides whether, based on the government's evidence, the case should proceed to trial. Last but not least, the possibility always exists that any time prior to the preliminary hearing a criminal case will be resolved through a plea bargain between the government and the defendant.



IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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