Pre-trial is that stage of a criminal proceeding before the actual trial. In criminal proceedings, judges will hold a pre-trial conference to ensure that both sides are ready to proceed to trial. Some judges hold that conference immediately before the trial. Others hold that conference a month or so before the trial date.
What Happens At A Pre-Trial Conference?
By the time a case gets to the pre-trial conference, both sides have all their issues and supporting evidence lined up. They know what they are going to do with their case at trial.
Discovery is complete and information has been exchanged. Each side knows what documentary evidence will need to be admitted at the trial and which witnesses will need to testify.
Unlike television courtroom dramas, no one wants surprises during a trial. Everyone wants to know what to expect during the course of the trial.
To that end, witness lists and exhibit lists are exchanged during the pre-trial conference. Your Okmulgee criminal defense lawyer will have prepared these in anticipation of the pre-trial conference.
Issues can also be narrowed. Sometimes, when issues are really clear for both sides, a judge will ask for a stipulation of fact. That can shorten a trial and make it less complicated.
Motions in Limine — pre-trial motions—are also heard at this time. These motions are short, but often important. These can limit what evidence will or will not be admitted. These can also limit the presence of witnesses in the courtroom until they are called to testify.
Pre-Trials Are Informal
These conferences often take place in the judge’s chambers rather than in the courtroom. You and your Okmulgee misdemeanor defense attorney have done a lot of work on your case coming into the pre-trial conference.
You have investigated and interviewed witnesses. The law has been researched and you understand how it will apply in your case. You are getting ready to present the strongest case you have and to make the prosecution’s case as weak as possible.
The pre-trial conference is one of the last steps in this process. The results of this conference will define the contours of the trial itself.
Some judges see both sides together in chambers. Other judges like to meet with each side separately in chambers before meeting together.
In either case, a pre-trial conference can give you a good feel for what the trial will feel like. This information can be really helpful going into the trial.
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