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Preliminary Hearings

Preliminary Hearings in Felony Stalking and Aggravated Stalking Cases

As is the case with arraignments, the procedures used to conduct a preliminary hearing in a felony stalking or aggravated stalking case are the same as in all other preliminary hearings in felony cases. Therefore, the judge's role and decision-making responsibility in felony stalking or aggravated stalking preliminary hearings is to determine whether there is probable cause to believe the defendant has committed the offense and therefore should be bound over for trial in district court. See, e.g., Rule 6-202(C)(preliminary examination). Additionally, as with arraignments, the judge should maintain an awareness of the rights of the victim at the preliminary hearing as well as concerns for his or her safety.

One of the issues of relevance in stalking prosecutions is the impact the pattern of conduct had upon the victim and whether that impact rose to the levels required in the statutes. The victim will likely testify at the preliminary hearing to detail both the pattern of conduct and its impact upon him or her and possibly members of the household. The defendant has the right to cross-examine the victim. Therefore, the court should be prepared to strike a balance between the rights of the victim and the rights of the accused during the preliminary hearing.