In traffic and misdemeanor cases, the victims and witnesses normally need only appear in court at the trial. In felony cases, the victims sometimes will be called to testify at the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is not a trial but is held in felony cases to determine whether probable cause that a crime has been committed exists and that there is reason to believe that the defendant committed the crime. The preliminary hearing is conducted before a judge sitting without a jury. If probable cause is established, the case proceeds to trial or plea. If no probable cause is found, the case is dismissed.
Victims and witnesses are sometimes called upon to testify in cases where pretrial motions are filed. These motions usually deal with technical legal issues.