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You could use quite a few words to describe what it’s like to face criminal charges. Stressful, overwhelming, and confusing sum up the experience for many people.
Suddenly, you have paperwork, court dates, and a slew of legal terms to keep track of—all while managing feelings of anxiety and fear.
Fogarty Law specializes in seeing people like you through this entire complex process. That’s why we put together this complete guide and FAQ on what to expect during a pre-trial hearing in Massachusetts. Keep reading to learn the purpose of this hearing and the best way to prepare.
The purpose of a pre-trial hearing in Massachusetts is to either resolve your case or prepare it for trial. At your arraignment, you’ll be given a date for this hearing.
Depending on the details of your case, you may attend one or multiple hearings. It’s possible that you and your attorney will have enough evidence to resolve your case with just one. But it’s also common for a pre-trial hearing to kick off the discovery process, which is the formal exchange of information about witnesses and evidence.
Lastly, the Court where your case is being heard impacts this hearing too. If you’re in District Court, the process is more like a meeting (or meetings) between your lawyer and the prosecutor.
Both sides will exchange information on evidence and witnesses. If it’s agreed that your case will go to trial, they’ll also discuss any special considerations at this stage.
But if you’re in Superior Court, the pre-trial hearing is a bit more formal. Instead of a meeting between both sides, it’s more like an official hearing run by the Court itself.
Regardless of which Court is overseeing your case, though, the purpose of the pre-trial hearing is the same. The defense and prosecution either agree to resolve the case or begin the discovery process for exchanging info on evidence and witnesses.
The potential issues addressed during a pre-trial hearing in Massachusetts are:
And remember, this may all unfold over several pre-trial hearings instead of just one. Every case is unique. But in every case, the issues addressed relate to the validity of your charges and prepping for the trial.
In Massachusetts, the specific participants in a pretrial hearing may vary depending on the nature of the case and the issues that will be addressed during the hearing. However, generally speaking, the following individuals may participate in a pretrial hearing in Massachusetts:
It’s important to note that if the case is in a district court the judge will be a district court judge, if it’s in a superior court the judge will be a superior court judge.
It’s also possible that a clerk-magistrate or bail commissioner may be present in the hearing, to help the judge with administrative matters.
Yes, you may have to speak to the prosecution or give a deposition during the hearing. That’s why we recommend that you attend the hearing (or hearings) with your attorney.
Doing so can help this process go much more smoothly. You have no experience in what to ask for or what to say in this setting. But a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney is very familiar with the process.
They’ll make sure your rights are protected, and they’ll do most (if not all) of the speaking during the hearing. If you don’t bring an attorney, you’ll have to talk with the prosecutor yourself.
And speaking face-to-face with the person trying to convict you can be a challenging experience, to say the least.
Lastly, you may be required to give a deposition at some point. This means giving a statement under oath, which is similar to testifying in court. Your attorney will help you prepare for this scenario.
Yes, if your case goes to trial, the trial date will be set during a pre-trial hearing.
But this might not happen at the first hearing. For example, the next court date may be for filing motions, for the trial, or both.
Once your lawyer and the prosecution have completed all the necessary prep and discussion, both parties must sign a pre-trial conference report. This report lists out the details of the discovery process and any planned motions.
Then, the judge reviews it and signs it too. At this point, the next court date is scheduled.
No, the judge won’t decide your guilt or innocence at the pre-trial hearing. But it is possible to resolve your case during the hearing, in which case you are technically innocent.
For example, your attorney may file a motion to dismiss the complaint or charges against you. If the motion is accepted, your case will be dropped. It’s even possible that the charge won’t go on your record at all in this scenario.
But that’s the closest thing to the judge deciding your guilt or innocence. Making this verdict isn’t the purpose of a pre-trial hearing.
In Massachusetts, pre-trial hearings typically take place in the courtroom of the district court where the criminal case is being heard. The location of the district court will depend on the jurisdiction where the alleged crime occurred. For example, if the alleged crime took place in New Bedford, the pretrial hearing would likely take place in the New Bedford District Court. Which is the court that serves the city of New Bedford and the surrounding area and has jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases. The New Bedford District Court is located at 75 N. Sixth St., New Bedford, MA 02740.
Yes, you can and absolutely should have a lawyer present during any pre-trial hearing. Doing so can be very beneficial for your case and overall outcome.
When you choose Fogarty Law as your legal representation, you benefit from over a decade of expertise. As a former Assistant District Attorney and former supervisor of Brockton District Court, she knows all the tactics the prosecution is likely to use.
And she knows where they’re likely to make mistakes.
You see, a pre-trial hearing in Massachusetts gives equal opportunity to both sides. The prosecution can unearth anything they might be able to use against you. But your attorney can also review everything they’ve done with a fine-toothed comb.
From mistakes in police reports to no probable cause, a skilled Massachusetts criminal defense attorney like Courtney can use these mistakes in your favor. In the best-case scenario, your case will be dismissed entirely.
If criminal charges have been brought against you or a loved one, time is of the essence.
The sooner you hire legal representation, the sooner you can start taking steps to put all of this behind you. Just call our office at (508) 317-0339 for your free case evaluation.