When you've been charged with a crime, the municipal or justice court will set a misdemeanor case for a pretrial conference after the initial appearance hearing has been conducted. (Read about the procedure and purpose of the pretrial conference here). The pretrial conference is the first opportunity to obtain the police reports and evaluate any plea offer the prosecution might make.
The following are some steps you can take to prepare for a pretrial conference scheduled in a Mohave County municipal or justice court.
1. Call Your Attorney.
You don't have to wait until the day of the pretrial conference to begin discussing your case with your attorney. You will have pertinent information your attorney would like to review ahead of time. Additionally, police reports and plea offers are sometimes given in advance of the pretrial conference and could be discussed beforehand. Although not always the case, consulting with your attorney ahead of time may expedite the trial process and enables you to be more informed throughout the process.
2. Write a Journal of Key Events About Your Case.
It is a good idea to jot down what happened after you are arrested or accused of committing a crime. Where the incident occurred, which witnesses were present, statements you made, statements that were made by the officer, and a timeline of events are all details that are important to assess your case. You need to be able to recall these key facts and provide them to your attorney. Do not rely solely on the version of events given by the police. The ability to recall little details when discussing your case with your attorney can sometimes be the difference between a favorable or unfavorable outcome.
3. Review the Police Report for Accuracy.
If you are able to get in touch with your attorney before the pretrial conference (some attorneys and public defenders are harder to get a hold of than others), they may be able to provide a copy of the police reports generated for your case ahead of time. Read the reports and note both accurate information and any inaccuracies you can find as both are valuable to your attorney and your case.
4. Research How a Criminal Conviction Will Impact You or Your Career.
Licensed professionals could be impacted by a criminal conviction or arrest. Teachers, real-estate agents, nurses, and any licensed professional required to have a fingerprint clearance card may become ineligible to receive clearance, and may be required to report criminal arrests or allegations to their regulating agency. Research the regulating agency online to find out what impact a criminal conviction will have. If you do not know, then ask your attorney. You need to thoroughly understand the collateral consequences before you decide to accept a plea agreement.
5. Bring Your Calendar.
There are going to be subsequent court dates set after the pretrial conference. Coordinate your schedule with the Court and your attorney to avoid as much inconvenience possible. Failing to appear for a court date will put you in a worse position so you want to be prepared.
In summary, a pretrial conference is simply a meeting with your attorney and the prosecutor. Ensuring you and your attorney communicate clearly and are on the same page will allow that meeting to go as smoothly as possible, improving the chances for a favorable outcome in your criminal case.