What is a Pretrial in a Criminal Case?

If any of your loved ones or you are facing criminal charges, you are certainly anxious about the case proceedings and how things are going to work in the trial. Of course, the anxiety you feel stems from the insecurities and lack of information regarding the legal process, the potential of the case, and the consequences you or your loved one might have to face in the future.

Uncertainty about the case proceedings can be traumatic and stressful, even if the changes are minor. The best way to gather any information about the legal process or the case proceedings is to get the help of an experienced lawyer. Until you get the help of an experienced attorney for your charges, this article will give you a standard view of the criminal case and what is a pretrial in a criminal case phase.

Overview of a criminal case

A criminal proceeding generally moves ahead with three stages, pretrial, trial, and post-trial. All of these steps include multiple stages. However, most of the criminal cases are streamlined. For instance, if both the parties (prosecution and defendant) come to a plea bargain agreement approved by the court, then there will be no further trial phase.

Pretrial stages of a criminal case

What is a pretrial in a criminal case? A pretrial phase of a case either starts with an arrest of the criminal, the issuance of summoning,ing or begins with the criminal proceedings. Moreover, the pretrial phase of a criminal case contains everything that happens just after the arrest of a criminal. Summons or citations are issued when the jury has been selected, which actually marks the beginning of the trial. The pretrial stage of any criminal case consists of the major part of the case.

There are various things that take place during the pretrial phase, including:

  • First appearance
  • Identifying the actual cause
  • Arraignments
  • Trial preparations
  • Bail bond hearing
  • Pretrial meetings
  • Discovery and investigations
  • Plea bargaining
  • Withdrawal of the case

In some cases, more than one or two steps can be combined. For example, at an early pretrial conference, a request for the bail bond reduction can be addressed. Your attorney will guide you through the steps and will clear your confusion about the case proceedings and how to deal with every court appearance and the case in general.

When the pretrial starts, you can also negotiate with the lawyer or judge to proceed the case to trial on your own. The procedure may contain:

  • Independent investigation
  • Identification of any flaw or clue in the prosecution’s case
  • Gathering witnesses and collecting pieces of evidence
  • Consulting experts and having diverse opinions

Pretrial hearings

Pretrial hearings are basically the court dates in which the lawyers of both parties from the criminal case make pretrial hearings or conferences. These hearings determine the need of the trial, such as permissible evidence, witnesses, or whether the case is eligible to be placed for a trial. Pretrial hearings are also called preliminary hearings that often takes place after the arraignments. During the preliminary hearings, the jury has to decide whether the crime is serious enough to conduct an investigation. Otherwise, the jury evaluates the evidence and considers if the defendant has committed the probable crime.

So, what is a pretrial in a criminal case? It is important to note that the pretrial hearings are not the ones in which the defendant would be sentenced innocent or guilty. If your case moves to the trial phase, only then the jury can conclude if the defendant is potentially guilty or innocent.

What issues should be resolved in the pretrial hearing?

The issues that are usually discussed in the pretrial hearing are purely based on the severity of the case. Lawyers of any of the parties can file a motion to remove or exclude particular evidence or testimony. Moreover, they can also file a request to change the venue, to provide information that someone thinks the prosecutor is concealing.

Depending on the nature of the case, a criminal lawyer can submit a motion to entirely dismiss the case if: the case has no proper evidence; both the parties have come to an arrangement before the trial, or the jury has been selected wrongly.

The judge has the right to make the decision right away during the pretrial hearing or s/he can provide the parties a new hearing date to come for the answers to their motions.

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