Trial Procedure

Here is how your trial and the court session will be handled. When you arrive at the court house, go to the courtroom at least 15 minutes early. Just outside the courtroom there will be a one page docket on the wall with all the trials scheduled for that session in that room. Your name should be on there and the docket number. Don't worry about the number, they don't go in chronological order.

Courtroom - click to enlarge


As you enter the courtroom you will see the prosecutor asking everyone their name and how they are going to plead. Indicate that you are pleading Not Guilty, then sit down.

Expect at this point to be offered a deal. When you speak to the prosecutor they may offer a lesser charge to plead guilty to. Or the police officer may pull you aside and ask to speak to you. He may also offer you a lesser charge if you plead guilty. Like First Attendance there will be tremendous pressure on you to accept a lesser charge.

Pre-Trial Poker

Poker has become a very popular card game. The most interesting aspect of the game is that the player with the best hand will not always win. That's because the game is all about bluffing. A successful bluff can make the player with the stronger hand fold. In other words weak hands can win as often as strong ones.

Too often in pre-trial, defendants with very good cases are bluffed into pleading guilty to a lesser charge and/or fine.

Some strong arm tactics may be used like telling you that disclosure was ready for some time but you didn't put a telephone number on the request. Or they may point out that they caught an error on the ticket and will have it amended. A more subtle approach might be to ask you why you are pleading not guilty and then try and convince you that your reasoning isn't sound. In fact all they are doing is using what you told them to help prepare a better response to give before the justice.

Many people who have gone through this and refused to plead to a lesser charge are stunned when only a few minutes later, the prosecutor inexplicably drops the charge before the justice. This is part of the game. Your invitation to play was issued on a yellow ticket.

Court is in Session

The justice will enter the courtroom exactly at the time of the court session (they are never late, so you shouldn't be either). The prosecutor will first drop all charges where the cop hasn't shown up. Several cases will be let go. He may also drop your charge at this point due to your disclosure request or your application for a stay of proceedings.

The prosecutor will then handle all guilty pleas.

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