If you face criminal charges in Texas, the pre-trial conference is one of the most important events to occur during the course of your legal proceedings. During this hearing, your defense counsel will meet with the prosecutor and judge to discuss the case and various elements of legal procedure. Some of the opportunities afforded defendants at pre-trial conferences include:
- Requesting discovery: The prosecution has been building evidence to secure a conviction in your case. This hearing is your attorney’s opportunity to request access to that evidence, which may include written statements, video footage and other facts pertinent to the case.
- Filing motions to suppress evidence: If your defense attorney has reason to believe evidence was illegally obtained or its admission would violate your constitutional rights, he or she can request to have it suppressed so it will not appear before a potential jury.
The pre-trial conference is also an opportunity to plea bargain with the prosecutor, but this will not necessarily happen at the first hearing, if at all. In some situations, there are several pre-trial conferences and your bargaining position may be stronger later on in the event you have completed classes or other mitigating circumstances have arisen.
In the best possible scenario, your attorney can use pre-trial conferences to seek dismissal of charges so you can put this criminal matter behind you. As discussed before, this is also an opportunity to seek a favorable plea bargain, if that is in your best interests. If your case goes to trial, the pre-trial conference is an important chance for your attorney to set the stage for a successful outcome.
Do you need to be there?
Your attorney will let you know if you need to be present at the pre-trial conference. In many situations, the defendant’s attorney’s presence is all that is required. By working with a defense lawyer who understands the nuances of pre-trial conferences, you can rest assured that your rights will be protected to the fullest extent.