The Process Of A Probable Cause Hearing
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)-A Lafayette County school teacher is facing accusations of Enticement Of A Child To Meet For Sexual Purposes.
Lafayette County deputies and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation filed an affidavit detailing the allegation against Molly Wray on Wednesday.
Due Wray being a teacher, a probable cause hearing must be held to see if there is enough evidence for an arrest.
“A probable cause hearing is required when you’re going to arrest an officer or teacher,” said Jeff Hosford, attorney with the Hosford Law Firm, PLLC. “You have to file an affidavit and then you have to submit that to the court, and then you have to have a hearing to show the evidence that you have to determine whether or not there’s sufficient probable cause to have the officer or teacher arrested.”
Hosford said the purpose of a probable cause hearing is solely to determine whether there’s enough evidence to warrant charges.
“Basically the officer would go in there and they will present the evidence that they have and they may call the witness that they have to present that evidence, and the judge will determine whether it be by a preponderance of the evidence if there’s enough evidence to issue the warrant to have that person arrested,” Hosford explained.
If the judge rules there’s enough evidence, the case will then be sent to a superior court.
“The person will get picked up and they’ll be charged and then he is entitled to the same rights as any other defendant,” the WCBI Legal expert said. “Obviously if it’s a felony the real charges don’t come until you actually get indicted by grand jury. You’re charged with the crime of a felony, but you’re not indicted on a felony until a grand jury determines there is sufficient evidence.”
Circuit Court judges typically preside over probable cause hearings.
Although the hearing happens in the early stages of a criminal case, similar to a preliminary hearing, Hosford said the two hearings differ.
“They would get that hearing after they were arrested,” said Hosford. “If there was probable cause, the judge would say there is probable cause to arrest them, go arrest them, and then they would be entitled to have another hearing to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to hold them.”
Hosford said a judge can also set Bond amounts during a probable cause hearing as well.
A date for Wray’s probable cause hearing has not yet been set.