What Is Pretrial County Court?

By Maggie G
Many legal proceedings, advance, a trial
a pair of steel handcuffs. image by Maxim Lysenko from Fotolia.com

Pretrial county court, often called a pretrial conference, can indicate different things depending upon the jurisdiction in which the pretrial conference occurs. Most often, the pretrial conference is a time for the defense attorney and the prosecutor who will be trying the case to meet and discuss it.

Features

According to the U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia, "the parties shall confer regarding the probable disposition of the case, scheduling problems, resolution of issues related to discovery production and the mechanics thereof, possible motions, and possible stipulations of law and fact."

Participants

Most attorneys prefer to handle the pretrial conference without the presence of their client. They will discuss immediately the results of the meeting with the client. The attorneys may meet at the court house, but not in open court with the judge present.

Negotiations

The attorneys will often negotiate a plea bargain. Plea bargaining is the process of telling the prosecutor the good things about your case (mitigation) and explaining why things that look bad (aggravators) are misconstrued.

Potential Results

The prosecutor will usually offer a lower charge in exchange for pleading guilty and forgoing your constitutional right to a jury trial.

Alternate Purpose

A pretrial conference also can signify is a final chance to meet to discuss any outstanding issues prior to a trial. This occurs in open court with the judge present. Issues include whether all parties have witnesses and evidence. When used in this context, it is usually the very last meeting at the court before the trial starts.