Definition - What does Preliminary Hearing mean?
If a person is accused of a felony crime, an initial court hearing must be performed with the purpose of determining whether there are enough facts to warrant continuing with the charge and with a criminal trial. In some areas, preliminary hearings are held at the jail. In others, they are held in a lower court than the one that would try the case. There must be input from the Director of Public Prosecutions in confirming that criminal charges should be levied; without this input, the preliminary hearing will find that there is not enough evidence or reason to proceed.
Justipedia explains Preliminary Hearing
A preliminary hearing must take place within a few days of a person being arrested, according to the US Constitution and the right to due process. The accused has the right to plead guilty or not guilty and also has the right to an attorney. The state will provide an attorney for free to any accused who wants one and does not have the money to pay for one.