If you and your loved one reported a nursing home abuser to the police, the abuser will likely get arrested. If this happens, many steps will be taken in this process. One thing to keep in mind is that there will be a pretrial before trial. The pretrial process consists of many different steps. This is probably your family’s first run-in with the law. In this case, you might be unfamiliar with how the court system works. You may wonder what is a pretrial and what purpose it serves.
A pretrial occurs soon after a person gets arrested for criminal conduct or illegal activity. It is usually thought of as their last appearance in court before the time of their trial. At this trial, the defense attorney and prosecution will gather their information. This information will help navigate them through the trial to make it a quick process. The pretrial process will help the prosecution and the defense determine their own defenses. In addition, both parties can learn more about the evidence that the other party hopes to present in court.
The prosecution will have gathered many points about the case during the pretrial phase. Common pieces of information that they will gather include:
- Crime severity. This includes the seriousness and level of the crime as well as its impact on the victim and the community.
- Basic knowledge about the accused. Their full name, date of birth, address, criminal record, and history.
- The health of the accused. This includes both physical and mental health. The defense might try to use insanity as a defense or something similar. Your attorney should anticipate a defense like this.
- The attitude of the defendant about the case. Meaning if they are remorseful for their actions. Or, if they maintain that they are innocent, or willing to admit to committing the crime. These factors could lead to a settlement offer. Or, they can indicate how a jury will respond to the defendant in court.
- The likelihood of a conviction at trial. The prosecution will review the evidence and specifics of the case to consider what will happen if the case goes to trial.
- The victim’s feelings about how the case should get handled. The prosecution should consider your family’s opinion and respect your wishes.
You should try to gather this information during the pretrial process. If you hire an attorney, it is their responsibility to handle this. They should have the experience to know what kind of information to gather. If you have any questions about this process, you can contact your lawyer about it.
A pretrial occurs before the final trial. This is sometimes seen as a solution when the defense and prosecution cannot see eye to eye. This happens if they can’t make a compromise through negotiation. Negotiation may continue through the trial depending on how things progress. But, the pretrial is an opportunity to continue gathering evidence and prepare for trial.
At the pretrial, the judge will not give a sentence to the accused. Instead, they will explain the charges to ensure that the accused understands what they are. The judge will also explain to the accused their rights as well as the penalties they may face. Also, the possibility of bail and release get discussed.
At the pretrial, there may be motions. There are ones made by the defense attorney to exclude certain evidence. The defendant may also motion to dismiss certain witnesses they do not see as credible. In extreme cases, the defense may argue to dismiss the case altogether. This could be due to faulty or insufficient evidence.
Motions will help you understand what the defendant expects to get out of the case. It will provide you with information on their defense. Similarly, they might learn more about your arguments during the motions process.
For the pretrial and court process to go smoothly, the process of discovery must take place. Discovery is the process by which information is shared with both parties. This generally takes place outside of the courtroom. The items shared during discovery usually consist of:
- Names of witnesses.
- Details about things people have said at various times.
- The identity of anyone who may know something about the case at hand.
- The documents relating to the case.
- Information about witnesses such as their professional and educational backgrounds.
There are certain things that are not permitted to get discovered. These things get protected and thus are referred to as privileged. Privileged information will always be withheld from a trial. There are several relationships that get considered privileged. These include:
- Lawyer and Client. Whatever you say to your attorney will remain private. If you wish to share information with them, it will remain private. It is not permitted for them to tell anybody else.
- Husband and Wife. A conversation between husband and wife won’t be disclosed to anybody.
- Doctor and Patient. Your medical records or medical advice from a doctor is exempt from being evidence.
- Religious Advisor and Advisee. The things you tell your religious advisor won’t get included.
As a regular family member of the victim (not a spouse), you might not fall under a privileged relationship category. Keep this in mind as your loved one goes through the pretrial and trial process.