I appeared this morning in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey representing a client charged with burglary, credit card fraud, and theft. This case was scheduled for an Early Disposition Conference (known as “EDC” court) which is the first court listing for the case. At this conference, the prosecutor’s office provides discovery to the defense counsel and the initial plea offer is given. Discovery is all of the evidence the State intends to rely upon to prove the charges against the defendant such as police reports, witness statements, lab reports, etc. This initial plea offer is typically the best plea offer the State makes meaning that, if the offer is rejected and the case is scheduled for grand jury, the plea offer will be worse once an indictment is issued.
This EDC conference is called a “Pre-Indictment Proceeding” (PIP Court) in Monmouth County and it has various names in each county around New Jersey. Not all counties have this pre-indictment conference but it is extremely beneficial and valuable to the State and the defendant. The State can save time and money by resolving some cases early on without having to present the case to a grand jury to obtain an indictment, which is the formal charging document. If the defendant agrees to the plea offer at the EDC conference, the defendant pleads guilty to an accusation and the case moves forward to sentencing. Moreover, the defendant, if eligible, also has an opportunity to apply for the Pre-Trial Intervention program at this EDC conference. If the defendant is recommended for PTI, the case will be resolved and the defendant will be placed into the PTI program.
For additional information on the EDC conference in Morris County, please see the New Jersey judiciary website . According to the State’s website, “[a]pproximately 78 percent of criminal cases are disposed of at the pre-indictment stage, leaving only 22 percent to go before a grand jury.” This is very beneficial to the State, the defendant, and the system as it allows the prosecutor’s office to save time and money rather than presenting every case to the grand jury and it also allows the defendant to receive the best plea offer possible early on in the criminal justice process.