What Should I Expect at a Pre-Trial?

The future can be unclear and worrisome if you or a loved one is involved in a trial. Uncertainty about the legal process, concerns about your case, and the possible future that you or a loved one could face are likely to be major contributors to this anxiety.

An attorney can explain what comes next, but in the meantime, you can begin by learning about pretrial motions. A pretrial motion might include the petitioner and their attorney, the defendant and their counsel, and the judge. 

There may be more people at pre-trial hearings if the goal is to work out problems and administrative issues that can be solved before the trial starts. This keeps the people involved from getting sidetracked by things that aren’t essential to the main legal issues. So, everyone benefits from pre-trial.

The Purpose of a Pretrial Hearing

In addition to establishing the judge’s authority, pre-trial hearings provide crucial context for the topics and parties involved in the trial. It can also be used to negotiate a settlement and save both parties the trouble and expense of going to trial.

The judge may establish some ground rules for the handling of the case and create a timeline for the trial and other pre-trial proceedings. There may be debate about which pieces of evidence to present and which witnesses to call at trial, or a change of venue may be requested. 

In a civil case, a settlement may be attempted, and in a criminal case, a plea agreement may be negotiated. A pretrial hearing also enables the parties to communicate information that helps with trial preparation. 

Pretrial in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

The bulk of any personal injury lawsuit can occur during the pre-trial period. The pretrial phase of a case can be marked by a number of important developments, such as: 

  • Request that certain pieces of evidence be excluded from the case due to improper collection, contamination, or evidence tampering
  • Negotiate settlements 
  • Argue to exclude defendant confessions
  • Identify witnesses and legal documents
  • Plan out when all the pre-trial documents need to be filed
  • Eliminate frivolous claims or defenses
  • Agreeing to or denying various accusations or claims
  • Discuss witnesses to be called and other trial processes
  • Explore the consolidation or management of large, complex cases
  • Acquire admissions of fact and documents to avoid unnecessary proof
  • Develop and clarify the matters in the case
  • Finalize motions brought forward in advance of the conference
  • Set dates for further conferences

If the plaintiff and the defendant are able to negotiate a settlement and the judge agrees, then the trial stage may be bypassed.

Attorney Evaluation During Pretrial Hearings

During all stages of the pre-trial process, the lawyers will do an assessment of the likelihood of winning the trial. When providing advice to a client, an attorney will take into account a number of factors, including the following:

  • The ability to prove liability
  • Potential outcomes
  • The merits of the case
  • The client’s credibility
  • The settlement amount in contrast to a potential court award
  • The client’s ability to resist tough questioning 

The plaintiff is the one who will ultimately decide whether or not there will be a trial.

The judge has the authority to restrict the number of pretrial hearings. One approach is to issue an order directing the setting of a trial date.

Do You Need an Attorney for a Pre-Trial Hearing?

Although it is possible to represent yourself in a pretrial hearing, it is essential to have an attorney versed in the pretrial procedure due to the number of complicated legal issues that will be addressed and decided. 

If you do not have counsel present, your position at trial may be compromised. If your case goes to trial, an experienced lawyer can represent you both during the trial and at the pretrial hearing to ensure that your interests are safeguarded.

Last but not least, in civil cases, having a positive preliminary hearing will improve your chances of a positive final outcome.

Why Is a Pretrial Hearing Important?

The hearing before your trial begins is crucial. To a certain extent, it may even be more significant. This is a chance to reach a settlement with the other party before the matter goes to trial. Some cases don’t have enough evidence to warrant going to trial. 

In other instances, the lawsuit may be dismissed due to a recognized technicality. During a pretrial hearing, many developments can significantly alter the plaintiff’s or defense’s approach. 

The pretrial can shape the way your case is presented or it can even be settled or thrown out altogether. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the matter will go to a preliminary hearing, which is basically a trial that precedes the trial.

Contact an Attorney for Your Pre-Trial Conference Hearing

The events leading up to trial can be stressful, making it difficult to decide when you should speak with an attorney. However, the loss of the compensation you need to cover your losses results in severe repercussions that may follow you for the rest of your life. 

Contact an attorney before your first pre-trial meeting in order to safeguard your rights. If you are facing a trial, get legal help.