If you are appearing in Court for a Pre-Trial, that means that you have already appeared before the Judge once before and pled not guilty. After an arrest has been made, the very first hearing that a person will appear in Court is called the Arraignment.
Several things will happen at the arraignment. The Judge will read the person being charged their rights and will explain to them what the charges are against them and what the full statutory sentence is. One of the important rights the Judge will explain to the person is that they have the right to an attorney. If they do choose to hire an attorney, the arraignment will be continued out thirty days and the person will be asked to appear before the Judge again, this time with an attorney present .
At the arraignment the Prosecutor will offer the person being charged a plea bargain. A plea bargain gives the person a lesser charge, or lesser sentence, in exchange for a guilty plea on that day. The offer is generally a standard offer with no room for negotiation and only stands while the case is at the arraignment stage. The problem with the offer for those that are unrepresented by a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney is that they are not aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and if they will be able to get a better offer than the one they are being offered.
Also at the arraignment, the person being charged will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. If the person accepts the Prosecutor’s plea bargain, then they will enter a plea of guilty, be read their rights and sentenced. However, if the person being charged pleads not guilty, the case will be set for Pre-Trial and the current offer made by the Prosecutor will be taken off the table.
The Pre-Trial is another courtroom before another Judge. The prosecutor’s in the new courtroom will also give a plea bargain, but this time it will be different from that of the offer at the arraignment. The prosecutor’s in the Pre-Trial courtroom have more of an ability to negotiate with the person being charged or their attorney.
There is a huge benefit to having an attorney represent you in any criminal matter, but specifically at the Pre-Trial stage. Because the prosecutor’s are open to negotiation in the Pre-Trial courtroom, there is a good probability that your attorney would be able to get your case dismissed or reduced. At the Pre-Trial the prosecutor will take the time to look at the facts of the case, discuss the weaknesses and strengths with the attorney and make an offer that is specific to the person’s specific background and the facts of their case. At the arraignment it is a standard offer that is given to every person before the Judge regardless of their criminal past or the facts of their case.
If you are being charged with a criminal offense, it is in your best interest to seek the help of a Criminal Defense lawyer with years of experience and knowledge in the area.