The first contact most people have with the Courts are the Pennsylvania Magisterial District Courts. These are the local courts in your community. The Judges in these courts are tasked with adjudicating traffic infractions, minor civil matters (up to $12,000), Landlord Tenant disputes and Preliminary Hearings.
If you are charged with a crime this local judge will be responsible for addressing your initial bail. The factors the judges use to decide this are your likelihood of appearing for trial/hearings, the severity of your crimes, and the danger you represent to the community. Having an attorney present for your Preliminary Arraignment is important as it can often mean the difference in an attainable bail. Importantly, if you are charged with a felony, an appointment can be scheduled to facilitate this hearing and again your attorney can present on your behalf. The Commonwealth will have a representative there, often the officer, you should have someone in your corner fighting for you as well.
The first step in the prosecution of a criminal case is the Preliminary Hearing. At this stage of the case the Prosecution must show that it is more likely than not a crime was committed and it is more likely than not you committed the crime. If those two tests are not met then the case should not proceed past a preliminary hearing. It is the first chance a person charged with a crime gets to cross examine the officer under oath, to examine any witnesses and or evidence the Comonwealth will use to convict you. This is an invaluable hearing both in preparing to try a case, and negotiating charges and settlements with the Commonwealth. You need an experienced trial attorney representing you at this phase of the proceedings to help guide the testimony towards a favorable outcome.