Have to appear for a pre-indictment conference in Ocean County, NJ? What happens at a pre-indictment conference? Do I need a lawyer? A pre-indictment conference is a court setting that occurs after criminal charges have been filed against an individual for an indictable offense, also known as a felony. In New Jersey, the pre-indictment conference provides the prosecutor and defense attorney an opportunity to meet to discuss the case and possibly work out a plea agreement.
If you have been notified of a pre-indictment conference in your case, consider the following information about what the prosecutor will consider and why it is so important to be represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer during your pre-indictment conference in New Jersey.
The Importance of a Pre-Indictment Conference
The purpose of the pre-indictment conference is to attempt to resolve a case ahead of time and lessen the burden on the court’s heavy docket. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the case will go to a grand jury. During the pre-indictment stage of the criminal justice process, the prosecutor decides whether to pursue your charges further. The prosecutor will likely interview witnesses to the crime, examine the police report, and review all evidence in your case. Whether the prosecutor decides to offer a plea at the pre-indictment conference will be heavily influenced by their likelihood to obtain a conviction at trial and the costs and time involved.
If the prosecution believes they have insufficient evidence to establish that you committed the indictable crime “beyond a reasonable doubt,” they may downgrade the charge to a disorderly persons offense. If the charge is downgraded to a disorderly persons offense, that means you are being charged with a lesser crime and your case will be remanded to the Municipal Court. Downgraded charges mean you will not have a right to a grand jury indictment or a trial by jury. You also face lesser penalties for a disorderly persons offense; however, a conviction will still appear on your criminal record.
Why You Need an Attorney for a Pre-Disposition Conference
Often, prior to the pre-indictment conference, the prosecutor will have reviewed the facts of the case, along with your past criminal history, and will be ready to make a plea offer. However, if the prosecutor is not making a plea offer, the pre-indictment conference is an opportunity for your defense attorney to speak to the prosecutor and persuade them as to why a plea offer should be extended in your case.
Some of the factors that your lawyer can present to the prosecutor to persuade them to extend a plea offer—or a better plea offer—include any defenses you may have, facts in the prosecutor’s case that are not strong, anything that casts doubt on the prosecution’s ability to meet their burden of “beyond a reasonable doubt” at trial, and positive qualities you may have like long-term employment, a degree, good grades, and lack of prior convictions.
Often, the prosecution will only present the strongest, most damaging evidence that they have against you. If you do not have a lawyer with you, this can be very intimidating and you may be led to believe that the prosecution’s case against you is stronger than it really is.
If you are presented with a plea offer, having the support and advice of an experienced criminal defense lawyer will help you decide whether the plea offer is a fair deal and what the best choice would be for you in your case. In other words, you need sound legal guidance from a professional who can ensure you don’t accept something that isn’t in your best interests.
Pre-Indictment Conference in Ocean County, New Jersey? Contact our Experienced Toms River Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have received notice of a pre-indictment conference in Ocean County, New Jersey, don’t go it alone. Contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Proetta & Oliver to represent you in your case. Our attorneys assist clients with every step of the criminal justice process in Ocean County Superior Court in Toms River, NJ. We will fight to protect your interests from the moment we become involved in your case, so call us now at (848) 238-2100 or contact us online to arrange your free consultation.