Many criminal cases end in a plea agreement in lieu of a trial. Negotiations between the defense and prosecution take time to complete, and courts use status hearings when the negotiations are ongoing.
Status hearings, sometimes referred to as a docket sounding hearing, keep the court and involved parties apprised of the negotiations between the defense and prosecution. The hearings keep the case moving through the judicial system and toward disposition.
Essentially, a status hearing acts as a check to determine the next move of the defendant. At a status hearing, several things can occur, including a request to continue the case to another status hearing, a request to move the trial into the pretrial conference phase, a request to set the case up for the announcement of a plea or to announce that a plea negotiation has not been achieved and the case is ready for trial.
Courts do not allow defendants to use status hearings as a means to drag out the case endlessly. Evidence needs to exist that demonstrates to the court that the case is, in actuality, moving toward a plea agreement.