What Are Pretrial Hearings?

Here at the Probst Law Offices in Columbus, we want to continue our series on the criminal defense process. As a criminal defense attorney, we want you to understand how the process works so that you can better interact with your attorney and pursue a desirable outcome.

When you face criminal charges, you may feel overwhelmed and scared. Know that you’re not alone. While you may not understand everything that occurs in the criminal defense process, you may find peace in knowing the high-level steps. In this article, we’re going to discuss pretrial hearings.

How Do Pretrial Hearings Work?

In most cases, a pretrial hearing is where an individual appears in front of the judge assigned to their case and the prosecuting attorney for the first time. The prosecuting attorney represents the state of Ohio, and aims to convict the individual charged with a crime. These crimes can range from drunk driving offenses to murder.

While at a pretrial hearing, Motions are filed to preserve constitutional rights, schedule future hearings, negotiate settlements, and secure appropriate resolutions to cases. While you are able to represent yourself in court, the Probst Law Offices in Columbus strongly encourage you to get criminal defense attorney representation for your case.


What’s the Goal of a Pretrial Hearing

For most, a pretrial hearing is held to get a better understanding of the potential trial agenda, the charges, and any negotiation. Each pretrial will have a main goal, determine how the case will unfold. Will the case go to trial, or will there be enough negotiation to resolve the case without a trial? Ultimately, a pretrial hearing exists to determine the next step, whether that be a negotiated resolution or a trial.

What Type of Information Is the Prosecuting Attorney Searching for?

As a general list, a prosecuting attorney is in search of the following pieces of information before or during a pretrial hearing:

  • Severity of the crime
  • Impact of crime on the victim or community
  • Demographics and psychographics of those involved
  • Guilt admissions or expressions of remorse
  • A willingness for reasonable restitution
  • Likelihood of a conviction, if the case were taken to trial

Pretrial Motions

The type of case, severity of charges, strength of prosecutor’s case, and various other factors determine the importance placed on a pretrial hearing. An effective pretrial hearing can substantially change the course of case. Here are some common pretrial motions that can be filed:

  • Summary Judgment: The facts involved in the case are not disputed, so the court orders a judgement without a full trial.
  • Motion to Dismiss: The case is motioned to be dismissed due to a lack of evidence, jurisdiction, settlement before trial, or a variety of other reasons.
  • Exclusion of Witness Testimony: A conflict of interest, unreliable witness, lack of competency, or more could get a motion filed to exclude a witness.
  • Exclusion of Physical Evidence: In some cases, evidence is obtained illegally, which can result in a filed motion to exclude that evidence from the case.
  • Motion to Change Venue: Some cases are awarded a change in location due to highly publicized cases and/or the jury has shown prejudice toward the defendant.
  • Motion for the Release of Evidence: The prosecution may hold evidence that is materially important to the defense, and a motion can be filed to have said evidence released.

Need a criminal defense attorney? Call Probst Law Offices in Columbus today!