What is a Criminal Pretrial Conference? What should I expect at mine?

In Michigan, a criminal pretrial conference is a procedural step in the legal process that occurs after the arraignment and before the trial. It serves as an opportunity for the prosecution and defense to discuss the case, negotiate potential plea agreements, and address any procedural matters before proceeding to trial.

During a pretrial conference, the prosecution and defense attorneys, along with the defendant, meet with the judge to discuss various aspects of the case. This may include reviewing evidence, discussing potential legal issues, and exploring opportunities for resolution outside of trial.

One of the primary purposes of a pretrial conference is plea bargaining. Prosecutors may offer the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty to lesser charges or to specific counts in exchange for a lighter sentence or other concessions. The defense attorney will advise the defendant on the potential implications of accepting a plea agreement and may negotiate with the prosecution to secure the best possible outcome for their client.

In addition to plea bargaining, pretrial conferences may address procedural matters such as scheduling additional hearings, addressing discovery disputes, or resolving any outstanding motions filed by either party.

Ultimately, the goal of a pretrial conference is to streamline the legal process, facilitate communication between the parties, and potentially resolve the case without the need for a trial. However, if a resolution cannot be reached during the pretrial conference, the case will proceed to trial, where the prosecution will present evidence, and the defendant will have the opportunity to mount a defense before a judge or jury.

For individuals facing criminal charges in Michigan, participating in a pretrial conference underscores the importance of having skilled legal representation. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advocate for the defendant’s rights, negotiate with the prosecution on their behalf, and help navigate the complexities of the legal process to achieve the best possible outcome.