Do pretrial conferences matter in criminal cases?

Do pretrial conferences matter in criminal cases?

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Michigan residents facing felony or misdemeanor criminal charges often feel confused and overwhelmed by the criminal process. There may be large gaps of time in between each stage of the case and it can seem like there are many different steps involved. It is natural to be confused about what steps are the most important or necessary.

As the case moves along, eventually a pretrial conference will be scheduled. A pretrial conference is an on-the-record meeting between the judge, attorneys and the criminal defendant. The purpose of the conference is to get everyone on same page regarding several different topics.

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What is discussed at a pretrial conference?

Several common items are discussed at a pretrial conference.  For example, what direction is the case headed?  Is it headed for trial?  Will a negotiated resolution be reached?  Are there any legal issues that require the court’s intervention? Has the prosecutor disclosed it’s evidence and witnesses to the defense?

One main purpose of a pretrial conference, however, is to see if there is any possibility of settling the case. The prosecution may make an offer, and depending on the terms, the defendant may decide to accept. For example, the prosecutor’s offer may be worth accepting if is better than risking the outcome at trial. However, going to trial may sometimes be a better option, depending on the specific terms of the prosecutor’s offer.

In conclusion, pretrial conferences do matter. They offer a chance to get a sense of what the prosecutor is thinking in terms of a settlement. It is vital to go to a pretrial conference with an experienced criminal defense attorney.