The criminal process is complex and unless you have been through it before you are probably confused. Today I am going to discuss one of the most important parts of the criminal process in Idaho: the Pretrial Conference.
I get a lot of questions about pretrial conferences: what are they, what happens, what do I need to prepare, etc. In essence a Pretrial Conference is a set time for the parties to sit down together, discuss each parties view of the facts, and attempt to come up with a mutually acceptable resolution to the case prior to trial. The vast majority of cases - especially misdemeanor cases - are resolved at the Pretrial Conference and do not require a trial where a jury would decide the question of guilt or innocence.
If you have hired an attorney take a deep breath and remain calm, the pretrial conference should not be overly stress inducing - it is mostly just an opportunity for you to discuss all your available options with your attorney and evaluate any potential resolutions to your case. Your attorney should do all the heavy lifting (in fact, depending on the county, it may not even require you to go into the courtroom or speak with the judge). The Pretrial Conference is a negotiation where the parties try and get some sort of Plea Bargain arranged in order to avoid going to trial. Most of the time, the negotiation begins by the prosecutor presenting a Plea Offer to the defendant. The defendant and their attorney then discuss the offer, the defendant's options, and the consequences of accepting or rejecting the offer. The defendant can accept the offer made by the prosecutor, reject the offer, or present a counter offer to the prosecutor. This negotiation is conducted outside the presence of the judge in most counties.
The Pretrial Conference typically ends one of three ways: 1. The defendant and the prosecution come to a mutually agreed upon resolution to the case; 2. The defendant and prosecution as the judge to set an additional Pretrial Conference out in the future (usually about a month) in order to continue the negotiation between the parties; 3. The defendant decides to reject the offers made by the prosecutor and asks the court to set the case for trial. Once the defendant makes a decision about how they want to proceed forward the parties go in front of the judge and explain how the case is going to proceed.