What is a Court Hearing?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

A court hearing is a gathering within a courtroom that is called for the purpose of conducting some type of legal procedure. There are many types of hearings, some of them involved with civil court issues while others focus on criminal court situations. While the structure and focus of a hearing will vary from on location to another, there are a few essential elements that apply in just about every court of law and thus govern the flow of a court meeting.

Hearings are held in court houses.
Hearings are held in court houses.

In many countries, the use of a preliminary court hearing known as an arraignment takes place. Often, the structure of this type of hearing allows legal counsel to present information to a judge regarding a charge leveled at a defendant. The judge then determines if there is sufficient evidence to hold a defendant over for trial. It is also not unusual in some courts of jurisdiction for the defendant to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty at this time. If appropriate, the judge may also set a bail amount for the defendant.

A court hearing allows legal counsel to present information to a judge regarding a charge leveled at a defendant.
A court hearing allows legal counsel to present information to a judge regarding a charge leveled at a defendant.

Just about every national legal system provides procedures and requirements that must be used in a court hearing known as a trial. With the trial, prosecution counsel provides evidence and testimony from witnesses in an attempt to convince a judge or jury of the guilt of the defendant. During the course of the trial, legal counsel for the defendant will be given the chance to present a case for the innocence of the defending party. The general expectation is that once prosecution and defending counsel have presented their positions, a decision can be rendered and the issue resolved. If required by the laws of the land, another hearing known as a sentencing is held at some point after the trial takes place.

Customs vary from one court of law to another. For example, civil courts may require procedures that are slightly different from those followed within a criminal court. Military courts may include elements that are different from civilian court hearings. Legal policies and procedures will vary from one nation to another, although the general structure of hearings between two given countries may be very similar.

In just about all hearings, a common factor is establishing a specific date, time, and location for the hearing to take place. Depending on the particulars of the case, a hearing may be scheduled very quickly or set for a later date, allowing both prosecutors and defending counsel time to gather facts for presentation at a trial.

Because the scope and type of hearings within a given court of jurisdiction will vary, it is important to consult laws governing the function of courts within that jurisdiction. Attorneys who are authorized to practice law within the jurisdiction can also advise clients of all types of court hearings that are likely to be relevant to a given situation.

In most hearings, a common factor is establishing a specific date, time and location for the hearing to take place.
In most hearings, a common factor is establishing a specific date, time and location for the hearing to take place.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@post no. 6: Marijuana is retained in someone's fat cells, so if someone is tested and they are very hydrated, it will often be negative.

Unfortunately, if you are then tested while not as fully hydrated as the first time, it can often pick up trace amounts still retained in the system that the body was holding onto. Exercising (basketball) also brings marijuana flooding back into the system since you're breaking down the fat cells containing the THC internally.

It happened to me. I passed a pee test and two days later failed the same test, with no use in between, but I was almost dehydrated for the second test.


In a probate court, if I get a smaller percentage of an estate, should I pay for attorneys and executors in the same amount as the other person?


If the prosecution offers a deal to the defendant in which almost all charges will be dropped if the defendant pleads guilty to the remaining charges, does it confirm that the prosecution's evidence is probably inadequate, not just for the dropped charges but also for the remaining?


If I mistakenly admitted to an offense in a Police arrest interview (video) am I able to retract that admission after realizing that I had not correctly checked the details of the accusation before speaking?


I have been through a grueling three-day hearing defending against a police prosecutor who was unable to complete his prosecution case within the allotted time.

The magistrate decided that the local magistrates court could no longer deal with the case and ordered that this partly-heard matter would be re-heard from the beginning in the better equipped Perth Magistrates Court. Is it legal to re-hear proceedings all over again in a new court or must a continuance in the original court be ordered? If so how/when should I object?


my sister hit my mom who is 84 years old. she has been in jail over 60 days. what happens if my mom does not show up? she has been subpoenaed.


My boyfriend is probably going to jail for 18 months and I'm not sure what to do. He has a DUI record (no injuries or fatalities or damage) but he's had two before and got put in jail for a bit (this was before I met him). Also this DUI he had, was about a month before I met him. I knew everything going in about what could happen, but he's so special to me that I want to get him rehab so that I can still see and be with him and have him not get locked up.

I've been guiding him to not drinking but if he gets locked up all of our dreams and aspirations will just leave. I'm getting punished for his past behavior and it's just hard. I know people will just tell me to move on, but when you've found (or think you've found) the one you wanted to give your life to and they just leave then its extremely difficult.

Especially since I have PTSD and Depression but he's the first person to get me help and that just adds some many points. He wants to help me as much as I help him.

Sorry for all the ranting. I do have a legitimate question: How do I get an opportunity to sit in on his hearing? and if he is convicted, will he go straight from the courthouse to jail or will there be a little time in between for litigation and paperwork?


will the judge let me talk at my daughters arraignment? she's been in jail 55 days. She is a druggie. i need the judge to sentence her to rehab, in house one, if possible. she is on a vop. not attending drug classes.


my boyfriend was charged in january and they let him out on bail in february. He was re-arrested and charged at the end of april. They asked for a bail hearing. Is his bail going to be granted or will bail will continue. Or is he going to stay in jail?


My boyfriend was sentenced a couple days ago, and he got 60 days. He moved out to the city jail, instead of county, if you know what I mean. there he was drug tested and passed as he knew he would (he stopped smoking three weeks ago so he could get work release.) he spent the day playing basketball, and just hanging out with fellow inmates.

strangely he was drug tested again 12 hours after his first one, and failed. I know for THC. I know for certain that he didn't use any drugs while in jail, and he was moved to the "hole" and has a hearing today. he is going to request to be re-tested. isn't that insane?


seek legal counsel. this is the purpose of lawyers.


I have a relative who has been in jail almost a month. what happened is that he found a wallet and the accuser is lying and saying he took it from her, which is very different, because my relative found it, and was trying to give it to the security from the deli. so now this week we have a hearing and what could happen? if the accuser doesn't appear, what will happen and what can we expect?


Do both parties have to appear at a court hearing?


Aren't hearings just for handling preliminary matters in getting a case ready before the case goes to trial? If so, is it appropriate for a judge to call a hearing and then during the hearing render a judgment on the case without letting the parties know that the hearing would end with a judgment? I witnessed this happen and one of the parties appealed the verdict and asked for a new trial because of it.


Once the hearing is over does the judge have a time limit in which he has to render his decision?

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