Pennsylvania is unique to other states because a preliminary hearing is required to take place in every felony or misdemeanor case. In other states the grand jury system is utilized more frequently.
At the preliminary hearing, many cases get continued or rescheduled. This results in innefficieny in our criminal system. I believe some Pennsylvania District Courts are very slow at moving cases. There are many legitimate reasons for continuances. Continuances may be granted for various reasons but the following are the most common reasons I see attorneys and defendants continue the preliminary hearing: the defendant needs to hire an attorney, the attorney is busy in another court or in DUI and drug cases the police are waiting for lab reports. However, in my practice I have noticed an ongoing problem of "no shows" by police officers in the high crime areas such as Coatesville in Chester County and the City of Chester in Delaware County. In other districts, "officer no shows" are typically legitimate. For instance, the officer may be on vacation or in training or on the street making an arrest. I belive these are legitimate reasons for the judge to grant a continuance. However, in the high crime areas, officers chronically fail to appear sometimes for unknown reasons. Nonetheless, the judges will still continue the case and give the officer a chance to appear.