Pre-trial in Criminal Cases in California

This stage of the criminal justice process is called pre-trial. This is the stage after arraignment and a plea of not guilty is entered by the accused. The following are the steps in the pre-trial process:

  1. Required attendance in court hearings depending on the criminal act committed. If the charges amount to a felony, then the accused is required to attend the preliminary hearing;
  2. Submit motions needed to fully dissect and unravel the case;
  3. Undergo the process of discovery. This means both parties, namely the prosecution and defense would exchange evidence and other information pertinent to the case;
  4. Plea bargain negotiations as well as other discussions, such as what are considered as facts accepted by both parties;

The prosecution as well as the defense would need to agree that pre-trial is adjourned before going into the trial proceedings proper. Before such confirmation is made, the lawyers would need to do the following:

  1. Review strengths and weaknesses of the case to be presented;
  2. Manage the intangibles of the case, such as the demeanor on the stand of the witnesses as well as the accused together with the criminal record of the accused;
  3. Review all plea bargain possibilities as well as possible immunities obtainable for the settlement of the case;

The process of discovery is the stage where evidence is exchanged between the defense and prosecution. This is an informal proceeding where the lawyers freely exchange evidence as well as other information on the case. When one party does not abide by the rules, then court intervention can be sought to enforce this equality. The requirements for a fair discovery are as follows:

  1. The parties supply witness information to the other, such as names, depositions and other information;
  2. The parties supply evidence to the other party freely;
  3. The prosecution needs to provide the defense of any exculpatory evidence it discovers. This means evidence that can exonerate the accused of the charges made;
  4. The prosecution needs to inform the defense of previous convictions of witnesses that can impeach the credibility of the witnesses;
  5. The prosecution furnishes the defense with all evidence it obtained, be it physical, recorded or written statements;

The pre-trial process is a serious legal activity in California. Should you be or know anyone undergoing this process, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.