A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

Submitted by Burt Rose

RULE 542. PRELIMINARY HEARING

(A) The attorney for the Commonwealth may appear at a preliminary hearing and:

(1) assume charge of the prosecution; and

(2) recommend to the issuing authority that the defendant be discharged

or bound over to court according to law.

(B) When no attorney appears on behalf of the Commonwealth at a preliminary

hearing, the affiant may be permitted to ask questions of any witness who testifies.

(C) The defendant shall be present at any preliminary hearing except as provided in

these rules, and may:

(1) be represented by counsel;

(2) cross-examine witnesses and inspect physical evidence offered against the

defendant;

(3) call witnesses on the defendant’s behalf, other than witnesses to the

defendant’s good reputation only;

(4) offer evidence on the defendant’s own behalf, and testify; and

(5) make written notes of the proceedings, or have counsel do so, or make a

stenographic, mechanical, or electronic record of the proceedings.

(D)

At the preliminary hearing, the issuing authority shall determine from the
evidence presented whether there is a

prima facie case that (1) an offense has
been committed and (2) the defendant has committed it.

(E) Hearsay as provided by law shall be considered by the issuing authority in

determining whether a

prima facie case has been established. Hearsay evidence
shall be sufficient to establish any element of an offense requiring proof of the

ownership of, non-permitted use of, damage to, or value of property.

[(D)] (F)

In any case in which a summary offense is joined with a misdemeanor, felony,
or murder charge, the issuing authority shall not proceed on the summary offense

except as provided in Rule 543(F).

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