By: +Ron Frey
Cleveland, Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer
As a criminal defense lawyer who practices in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas on a regular basis, I am often asked the following question by clients and prospective clients: "What happens at a pretrial?" The answer will depend upon a number of variables. This essay outlines the general process that occurs during a pretrial in Cuyahoga County in a criminal case.
First, it is generally required that the defendant attend all criminal pretrial hearings in Cuyahoga County. Generally, the defendant is required to be present at the time that the pretrial is scheduled to commence. Most of the time the defendant will be asked to sit in the chairs outside of the courtroom during the pre-trial.
Many things can occur during a pretrial. Oftentimes, the pretrial consists of the criminal defense lawyer meeting with the prosecutor assigned the case to discuss any issues that need to be resolved. These talks can include discussions regarding the exchange of discovery or evidence in a case, the setting of hearing dates and any other legal or factual issues that may need to be addressed. Further, after the exchange of discovery, plea negotiations are generally entered into whereby the criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor discuss possible resolution of the matter via a plea bargain. In other circumstances, the discussion is focused more upon the trial and the logistics of trial if it is apparent that no plea deal will be reached. Generally, the defendant is not involved in these discussions between the criminal defense lawyer and the prosecuting attorney. Rather, the defendant will remain on the floor or within the courtroom and wait until his or her lawyer returns.
In addition to meeting with the prosecuting attorney, criminal defense lawyers in Cuyahoga County also often meet with the judge on the case during pre-trial hearings. Each courtroom will handle this differently. However, if there is an issue that needs to be addressed by the court, or if the judge simply wants to meet with the lawyers in order to be updated as to the status of the case, the attorneys will often enter into the judge's chambers for a discussion.
There are other times during pre-trials when the defendant, the attorneys and the judge go on the record in open court. It is for this reason that defendants should always be prepared and dressed professionally whenever they have a court date or pre-trial.
In most cases there are multiple pretrials held. In many instances, a matter can be set for a pre-trial and can be converted into a different hearing. For instance, a case can be set for a pretrial in Cuyahoga County and it can be converted to a change of plea hearing if a resolution is reached during the pretrial.
There is much more that can be said regarding the role of a Cleveland, Ohio criminal lawyer during pretrial hearings in Cuyahoga County. If you or someone you know has a question regarding a pretrial matter in Cuyahoga County, please contact my law firm for a free initial consultation at (440) 537-0299.