At this hearing you will be formally charged with a crime. This is where you would enter a plea of guilty or not guilty and the Judge can impose a bail or bond.
Instead of imposing bail or bond, the judge can release you with certain conditions. Generally these conditions include that you are to have law-abiding behavior and attend all future hearings. In the cases involving suspected use of alcohol or drugs, the judge will likely require that you not consume alcohol or non-prescribed drugs.
You are likely to have more than one pretrial hearing. At this hearing, your lawyer and the prosecutor will have an opportunity to discuss your case. Sometimes your case can get resolved at this hearing and it goes no further. A resolution can come in many forms. You may plead guilty to a reduced charge that has a lesser punishment, the case could be dismissed or a variety of other outcomes.
Should you not be able to resolve your case at this stage, your lawyer would file pretrial motions.
At this hearing your lawyer will present facts and make legal arguments to strengthen your case. The purpose of the hearing is to allow you a chance to challenge the evidence the prosecution will try to use against you.
For example, in a DUI case your lawyer may challenge the admissibility of the breath or blood test results or standardized field sobriety tests. This is also the hearing where you are able to make important constitutional arguments such as challenging the lawfulness of the stop or detention, the lawfulness of an arrest, or any statements you made.
Your case can be dismissed as a result of a favorable argument. Even if not dismissed, sometimes your case can be resolved if the prosecution becomes aware of defects in the case or you win an important motion.
At this hearing both sides would announce whether they are ready for trial and if ready the judge would schedule a trial. Similar to the pretrial hearing, you can have a few of these hearings before your case gets scheduled for trial due to the un-readiness of either side or the congestion of the court.
Cases that get to this stage do not always end up going to trial. Sometimes your case can be resolved at this hearing. It will depend on your case and the situations involved in your case.
You have a constitutional right to a jury trial. In some cases you may want to waive the right to a jury trial and have a Judge decide whether you are guilty or not guilty.
It is not common that a case will go to trial, as there are too many cases in the criminal justice system such that it would break down if every case went to a trial. Also, not all cases are strong enough to make it worth it for the prosecution to take to trial and risk losing. Regardless of that fact, you will prepare for trial throughout the process with your lawyer just in the event that you and your lawyer decide that a trial is the best option for you to take.
In a criminal case, it is not over if a jury finds you guilty. There are several appeals that the case may go through, and we would discuss those options with you.
We know that you might feel overwhelmed by your case, and may not understand every aspect of the process. However, we will be sure to keep you up-to-date throughout your case, and provide you with a good written summary of what occurred after each hearing, for your reference.