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Pretrial Procedures

Pretrial Procedures

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It’s My First Court Appearance. How does it operate?

Under most circumstances, when a person goes to court for the first time it is for an arraignment by a court official such as a judge. This is when the individual is first orally informed of the charge or charges filed against them, the facts of the case are examined and it is determined what the next course of action will be.

If a sum for bond has not been established prior to this date, this is when it will be and typically the amount relies on what files have been charged.


Is an Arraignment when I should enter a Plea?

That is a distinct possibility as a defendant is afforded the choice to do so at this time, but many people choose to also go the route of answering the judge with the reply of “no contest” or “stand mute.” Thereafter the judge will inform the party of his or her rights and the case will proceed.

Bear in mind, any party in this situation should consult with a lawyer, to determine what their best options are and how to move forward with their case in a fashion that would be the most beneficial.


How can I be set free from jail?

There are a number of ways this can happen.

A person can be released on their own recognizance, which means there is no bail amount and the person provides their word they will appear in court.

Bail. This figure can vary widely according on the charges filed, and remember, if the person does not show up for any court related matter pertaining to the case, the bail money will remain with the court.


After Arraignment, what happens next?

If a party has been cited for a misdemeanor, the next court date will usually be a pretrial hearing, where the case is put on the docket for trial. There are occasions a person will enter a plea at this hearing, but often the case is put forward as a bench trial, jury trial or plea hearing.

In the case of the felony charge or charges, there would be a court date for a grand jury where evidence would be presented by the prosecution before the judge to buttress if the party should truly be charged with this crime. A defendant can take action at this juncture, but most normally allow the prosecution to provide the burden of proof. If the judge feels the charges should be filed, he or she signs the necessary paperwork. From then on the process relies upon what the jurisdictional rules are for charges, as some parties are arraigned again in another court, where once again it precedes to pretrial or there could be another similar format.

What Is an Attorney’s task from the First Court Date to the Second?

This time is when the lawyers participating in the case gather all the relevant facts, documents and information to prove their argument. This is known as discovery and is quite comprehensive for all facets of the case. At this point, each side also has to inform of the other of the witnesses they intend to call, any defenses they intend to make, or any other such information pertaining to the case.


Is there some method to undertake to find a witness?

That is when the party contacts the prosecution as they have access to a myriad of resources nearly every defendant does not and they are required to provide any aid they possibly can in this situation.


Is A Pretrial Motion Practice Complex?

Pretrial is a proceeding held by a judge, arbitrator, etc. A proceeding held before an official trial, to clarify points of law and facts. Before a trial commences, either lawyer possesses the option of entering motions for the court. Examples of these include:

To suppress evidence

In Limine - A regular use is at a pre-trial hearing or during an actual trial, requesting that the judge rule that certain testimony regarding evidence or information may be included or excluded.

To dismiss

All these actions would enable the defense to either restrict the exhibits that will be presented to the court, severely curtail what activities will be examined by the court, or have the charges entirely dropped because the prosecution does not have enough proof to maintain the charge.


Is There A Such Thing as a Diversion Program?

Actually yes. Although many jurisdictions do not provide this type of program, it has experienced growing popularity throughout the nation and aids people that have never engaged in previous criminal activity. If a person qualifies for a diversion program, he or she simply needs to fulfill all the requirements outlined to them and either the charge is dismissed or never hits the public record. If the person, however, reneges on any one of the conditions, the charges will be filed and pursued.


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