What to Know if You Have Court for a Pre-Indictment Conference in Morristown NJ
You have been charged with a criminal offense, appeared in front of a judge for your first appearance, and were given a Pre-Indictment Conference date. Now what? As a criminal defense lawyer who regularly appears in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown on behalf of clients facing criminal charges, I will explain the details of Pre-Indictment proceedings and answer some questions that I am often asked before we head to court.
What is a Pre-Indictment Conference?
You will likely have a Pre-Indictment Conference if you have been charged with an indictable offense, meaning a first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree crime. Other States may refer to indictable crimes as felonies. These cases are handled by the county prosecutor’s office in the Superior Court, Criminal Division, of the county in which the alleged offense occurred. Municipal court cases involving disorderly persons offenses do not entail a PIC conference, as only felonies are subject to indictment in New Jersey.
A Pre-Indictment Conference is sometimes called a PIC, CC or Early disposition date. Regardless of what it is called, it is relatively the same across the State of New Jersey. The court sets the date and requires you, your attorney, and the prosecutor to attend. The hope is that the case resolves at the earliest stage in the criminal process.
What happens before I go to court for a Pre-Indictment Conference?
You will need to have an attorney before you go to court for the Pre-Indictment Conference. An experienced criminal defense attorney plays an important role in your court process and can help you achieve the best result. Your lawyer will obtain the discovery in your case from the Prosecutor, also known as the evidence. Discovery is anything that the State has and intends to use against you. Some examples of discovery are police reports, videos, dash-cams, photographs, drug samples, and statements.
Depending on the nature of the charges you are facing, the discovery may be different. Some of the common charges that result in PIC dates in Morris County Superior Court include robbery, possession of CDS, burglary, and unlawful possession of a weapon. Regardless of the specific charges, you should review your discovery and speak with your attorney before your court date. Tell your attorney what is right or wrong with the information or what may be missing from the police officers’ reports. Your attorney will discuss the merits of the case with you to help you make an educated decision.
What if I Take a Plea offer?
Typically, the prosecutor will give your attorney a plea offer and ask that you take the “deal.” A deal may require you to plead guilty to a crime or lesser offense in exchange for a promise of a lower sentence than you would receive if you were convicted after a trial. If you decided to take the deal, the judge could not sentence you to any more than you bargained for in the agreement. If he did, then you can take your plea back.
If you choose to move forward with a plea agreement, your attorney will explain all of the rights you are giving up such as a right to a trial. The deal is written in the plea forms and signed by the prosecutor, the judge, your attorney, and you. An experienced attorney will make sure that the terms of your agreement are in the paperwork so that there are no surprises and you are protected. They can also advise you not to take a deal if the discovery shows clear errors on the part of police or if the evidence is simply too weak to support a conviction. Your lawyer can also explain other possible options, like a diversionary program, whereby you could get your charges dismissed.
In most cases, you go in front of the judge on your PIC date and plead guilty to what you bargained for. You will tell the judge what it is that makes you guilty of the offense.
Will I be sentenced that day?
If you plead to a criminal offense, you will be sentenced on a later date after the court staff interviews you and puts together a pre-sentence report.
Do I have to take the deal at the Pre-Indictment Conference?
No, you do not have to take the deal and you may plead not guilty and have the case referred to the grand jury. You have a right to have a trial on another date.
Why would I reject the deal?
Maybe the deal is not right for you, it is not the right time to make a deal, or you may just want a trial. Whatever the reason may be, the choice is up to you. If you choose not to take the deal, the prosecutor does not have to offer it to you again.
How long will I be in court on the date of my Pre-Indictment conference?
You may be in court from as little as a few minutes to as long as the entire day. You cannot leave until excused.
Will I go home at the end of the day after my Pre-Indictment Conference?
Yes, in most cases, you will go home after your case is heard.
Do I have to go to my Pre-Indictment Conference?
Yes, you must go this court unless excused by the court. If you are not excused, and do not go, a bench warrant may be issued and you may be arrested and held in jail.
Get Help with Your Morris County Pre-Indictment Conference
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, our attorneys can help. We represent clients at Pre-Indictment Conferences in Morris County Superior Court on a regular basis and we will guide you through the criminal process. It can be a frightening experience to be charged with a crime, but we can help lessen your fears, help you understand your options, and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.