In a criminal defense case, a pretrial hearing is a crucial element of the legal process. Whilst this can seem like a daunting and confusing process, an experienced criminal defense lawyer should have no problem not only handling these proceedings, but explaining the criminal process in a clear and easy to understand way to their client.

The legal definition of a hearing is a proceeding that occurs in front of a court or other administrative body or officers like a government agency or legislative committee. A hearing is usually differentiated from a trial in that it is normally briefer and often informal. Amid the litigation, they are carried out as oral arguments supporting motions, whether to determine the case without additional trial on a motion to dismiss or summary judgment or settle distinct, legal issues like admitting evidence that decides how the trial progresses. Partial evidence and testimony might also be submitted in hearings to accompany the legal arguments.

There are numerous types of hearings used in the U.S. legal system. One of them is known as a pretrial hearing. If a person has been charged with a crime, he or she may think that the trial will affect his or her future the most. While the trial is a vital process, the genuine result is frequently determined long before the individual sets foot in front of a jury. The pretrial hearing occurs before the trial, and it establishes the basis for everything that will happen later.

What is a Pretrial Hearing?

A pretrial hearing is a meeting between the parties that engages in a legal argument. This meeting takes place before the trial begins, after a person is served with a lawsuit and has acquired legal representation. The parties engaged in the meeting might consist of

  • The plaintiff and Attorney
  • The defendant and Sarasota criminal defense lawyer; and
  • The judge or magistrate administrating the case.

In pretrial hearings, other parties might be involved because these meetings are meant to aid in clarifying any matters and administrative information that can be dealt with before the actual trial. This permits the parties to concentrate on the case’s most significant legal issues without being preoccupied with minor matters. As a result, pretrial hearings help every party involved.

  • A few matters that a pretrial hearing might consist of but are unrestricted to
  • Filing and acquiring needed pretrial motions
  • Resolving certain facts
  • Offering settlement proposals; and/or
  • Accepting or refuting different accusations or claims.

What is the Purpose of a Pretrial Hearing?

As mentioned above, the purpose of a pretrial hearing is to settle any uncomplicated matters before the start of the actual court case to permit the trial to progress more efficiently.

The parties are permitted to share the information which assists in preparing for the trial, if the case must go to trial following a pretrial hearing. In a few cases, a pretrial hearing permits a settlement to be reached and avert the time and cost of a trial overall.

Pretrial hearings also assist the judge in completely understanding the matters and parties to the case, in addition to establishing his or her authority.

Pretrial Hearing Process

Numerous things might occur at a pretrial hearing. The judge might first establish a few fundamental rules concerning how the case progresses, in addition to setting trial schedule and any other pre-trial issues. The parties might then dispute which evidence is appropriate to be brought in at trial, in addition to if certain witnesses should be utilized at the trial. The parties might also ask for a change of venue.

The criminal defense attorney of either party might move to dismiss the case or a summary judgment. In other words, this individual might ask the judge presiding over the case to dismiss the whole trial or decide on certain legal points that are specifically favorable to his or her client.


For anyone, a pretrial hearing is as significant as the trial. In a few ways, it might be more significant. It is a chance to resolve the case before going to trial. In a few cases, there just is not a sufficient foundation to demand the case to proceed to trial. In other, validated technicalities might be adequate to have the case dismissed.

A few cases depend on credibility, and if a witness is unwavering in being less than believable during the pretrial hearing, it can transform the prosecution’s tactic or the defense’s approach in appropriate ways. If the case cannot be resolved, then it will proceed to the preliminary hearing, which is a trial before the trial.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges and needs the services of an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney, contact Michael Fayard, Attorney at Law at 434 S Washington Blvd Ste. 200, Sarasota, FL 34236, or schedule an appointment via phone at (941) 306-1310.

Do I Need to be Present at a Pretrial Hearing?

If a pretrial hearing has been planned in a civil case, all parties must be present since the purpose of the pretrial hearing is confining the issues prior to trial on the topics.

Confining the issues in a civil case will permit the issue to be dealt with more effectively.

In a Sarasota County criminal court, if the prosecution demands pretrial hearings, the defendant must appear at the hearing. However, a few states do not expect a pretrial hearing to be held if the defense asks for one.

Preliminary hearings are only conducted when the defendant initially pleads not guilty at his or her arraignment. A defendant must appear at a pretrial hearing to question the witnesses of the prosecution and assist in developing defenses and place him or herself in a superior place for plea discussions.

Can a Case be Dismissed at a Pretrial Hearing?

It is imperative to be aware that throughout a pretrial hearing judges will decide on any motions or issues raised throughout a pretrial conference. In other words, motions to dismiss will be decided on during the pretrial hearing.

Even though many pretrial motions contend with the defense requesting that specific evidence be prohibited or permitted for trial, sometimes it might effectively end the overall case of the prosecution with an effective pretrial motion to dismiss.

The case will be dismissed if the key witness does not appear, the prosecutors cannot ascertain at a minimal level that every component of a specified criminal offense happened, or the statement of a key witness crumbles under cross-examination. Other reasons for a case to be dismissed include as follows:

Fourth Amendment violations regarding illegal searches and seizures by police, investigators, and law enforcement
Procedural issues concerning police and prosecutors violating the rights of the defendant
Lack of resources
The defendant’s cooperation with the case

If the defendant does get the charges dismissed, prosecutors might choose to file charges against the person again in the future.

Do I Need a Lawyer at My Pretrial Hearing?

If you have an impending pretrial hearing in Sarasota County, you must have an experienced and competent criminal defense or civil lawyer. Even though you can act as your own attorney at a pretrial hearing, because of the amount of multifaceted legal issues argued and decided on at it, it is imperative to have a lawyer conversant with the pretrial proceeding. If the person does not have a lawyer present, he or she might exacerbate the trial of your case.

A skilled lawyer could not just make sure that your concerns are looked after at the pretrial hearing, but he or she could also represent you during a trial if your issue goes on to trial. Additionally, in criminal issues, a skilled criminal defense lawyer could have the case against you dismissed. Lastly, in civil issues, a successful pretrial hearing will cause you to receive a more beneficial overall result in your case.

Can You Go to Jail at Pretrial?

It is extremely doubtful that you would go to jail at the pretrial hearing. The court’s task is not to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Instead, the role of the judge is to decide whether there is sufficient evidence for the charges to go on to the court for trial. Although the prosecution submits sufficient evidence for the case to progress, there would not be a sentencing hearing because the defendant has not been convicted.

The only reason that a defendant would be detained if the prosecution were to move to increase or revoke the defendant’s bail. The judge or magistrate would listen to bail arguments and could increase or allow bail to remain as it is. If the judge increases bail, the defendant could be detained until the new bail amount is paid. The defendant would then be freed. It is rather sporadic for this to occur, so it is doubtful that you would go to jail at the pretrial hearing although the prosecution submits adequate evidence.

What Does Pre-Trial Felon Mean?

What Does Pre-Trial Felon Mean?
A pre-trial felon in the U.S. is a person who has been indicted for a felony, but whose case has not yet gone to trial. The pre-trial process entails at least one hearing which occurs before a complete trial being convened. They are normally conducted to determine if a complete trial is merited.

The trial process can be expensive to taxpayers. Because of this, when individuals are indicted for crimes, a trial is attained only after a case undergoes numerous other review stages. First, when somebody is apprehended for a crime, he or she is arraigned.

Afterward, the prosecutor must first establish that a crime has been perpetrated and it is rational to suppose that the individual apprehended and indicted with the crime could have perpetrated it. Next, the defense attorney or attorneys and prosecutor talk about probable solutions to the case.

As long as the case cannot be settled throughout the pre-trial process, it goes on to a complete trial.