A Look at Pretrial Hearings in Criminal Cases

In criminal cases, pretrial hearings and motions are extremely important in determining the eventual outcome. After posting bail in Upper Marlboro for a loved one, it is essential for him or her to stay informed about these hearings through his or her defense attorney and to show up at any hearing in which his or her attendance is required. Failing to show up for any court date, including pretrial hearings, could cause bail to be revoked and the bail bond agent to contact you about covering the full bail amount. Here is what you need to know. pretrial - hearing

What are pretrial hearings?

Pretrial hearings are the court dates during which attorneys for both sides of a criminal case make pretrial motions. These motions can address everything from what evidence is permissible during trial to whether a trial should take place at all. Pretrial hearings typically occur after preliminary hearings, also called arraignments, during which the judge makes an initial decision about whether there is probable cause to think that the defendant could have committed the crime. Note that a preliminary hearing is not the same thing as deciding whether someone is innocent or guilty. If your loved one is bound over for trial during a preliminary hearing, it simply means that a judge believes that a jury could potentially find him or her guilty.

What issues are decided in pretrial hearings?

The issues that are debated during pretrial hearings vary greatly, depending on the nature of the case. Attorneys may file motions to exclude certain evidence or witness testimony, request that the venue be changed, or request the release of information the defense believes the prosecutor is withholding. In some cases, attorneys may make a motion to dismiss the case completely due to lack of evidence, settlement agreements made before trial, or because the case is being tried in the wrong jurisdiction. The judge may decide these issues during a pretrial hearing or may require everyone to return at a later date to hear his or her answers to the motions.