What is a pre-trial conference?
A pre-trial conference in criminal court is the first scheduled date for every criminal case after the arraignment date. Sometimes people confuse the pre-trial conference date with the actual trial date, but the two are not the same. By this time you have already spoken to your lawyer, and you know what is going on with your case. Bascially, you understand if the case is going to be some sort of deal with the district attorney or a trial.
Now if you are in the process of getting a lawyer or finding a new one, don’t worry that you have not done so by the pre-trial date. The court is aware that people switch lawyers and often need time to hire one. However, if you have a lawyer already you will likely have an idea if you intend to make a deal (plea) or if you intend to eventually have a trial.
Can we make a plea on the pre-trial conference date?
Sometimes, even if you intend to make a plea, you might not be ready to do so at a pre-trial conference. Reasons for this may be you:
- Have not seen all the evidence against you.
- Need more time to prepare documents in support of a plea, such as letter of support, treatment records, or witnesses.
- Simply have not made up your mind about what you want to do with the case
How do we start preparing for trial?
If you do not intend to offer a plea at a pre-trial then this will be the first date in preparation of your trial strategy. This will be the first wave of what are called discovery motions. These written requests to the judge and district attorney are requests for certain items, documents, or tests. Often times, these motions will include:
- Requesting criminal records of the accusers and witnesses
- DNA, fingerprint, ballistics, and drug laboratory results
What happens at a pre-trial conference?
Your attorney will ask for these items if you are going to eventually have a trial at this pre-trial hearing. When this occurs, the clerk will call out your name while you sit in the audience. When the clerk calls out your name, both you and your attorney will stand up. Your attorney will direct you where to stand. They will argue to the court what you should receive and why and the court may decide that day if they agree with you or not. If they do, the court will simply give you another date to come back to ensure that the Commonwealth has complied with your request. That next date is called the compliance and election date. You don’t get a letter or a notice to appear for this. That date the court tells you then is the only notice you will get.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE AN UPCOMING PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.