The Pretrial Conference
The Pretrial Conference, typically scheduled every 30 days in court, serves several important purposes. Firstly, the judge ensures that all necessary discovery items, such as police reports, audio tapes, video tapes, and test results (blood and breath tests, for example), have been provided by the state to the defense counsel. This allows the defense to access the information they need to prepare their case during the “discovery” phase. Usually, in straightforward felony cases, three to four pretrial conferences are sufficient to complete the discovery process.
During the Pretrial Conference, plea negotiations between the defense attorney and the prosecutor take place, and various motions can be filed by the defense counsel if they are based on factual grounds. These motions may include:
- Motions to Dismiss: These motions are filed when there are numerous constitutional violations that warrant the dismissal of the charges.
- Motions to Suppress: These motions are based on allegations of police misconduct and seek to exclude specific evidence from being presented in court.
- Deposition Motions: These motions compel witnesses to appear and provide testimony, ensuring their presence during the trial.
- Motions to Compel: These motions request the release of documents held by the police that are necessary for the defense’s case.
The Pretrial Conference phase is an opportune time for the defense counsel to engage in these plea negotiations and file relevant motions. It is also when a Plea Agreement may be relayed to the defense attorney, enabling them to discuss the next steps with the defendant. For further information on Plea Agreements, Presentence Reports, and Sentencing, please refer to the corresponding sections.