By District Attorney Ryan Sayers
2023 Vol. 9
As we start a multi-week discussion on criminal trials, it is best to begin with the process of how a case gets scheduled for trial.
Each county in the Commonwealth is a little different on how criminal cases are moved through the system.
In Clearfield County, we have a three-part process leading up to a trial: Criminal Call, Criminal Pre-Trial Conference and Jury Selection.
First, a case is scheduled for Criminal Call. Criminal Call is an opportunity for the prosecutor, the defendant and defense attorney, if there is one, to meet and discuss the case.
There is no judge present at this stage of the process. The purpose of Criminal Call is for the parties to discuss any outstanding issues and a plea offer is put on the table for the defendant to accept or reject.
If the defendant accepts the plea, then he or she completes the necessary paperwork, and the the case will be scheduled for sentencing court in the next month or two.
However, if the plea offer is rejected or not accepted that day, then the case proceeds to Criminal Pre-Trial Conference.
Unlike Criminal Call, a Criminal Pre-Trial Conference does have a judge present. At a Criminal Pre-Trial Conference, the judge asks if there are any outstanding legal issues and if both sides are ready to proceed.
If the case is not continued due to outstanding legal issues, then the judge sets a trial date and informs the parties when Jury Selection will take place.
Next week, we will pick up the discussion with the third part of this pre-trial process and explain how a jury is selected.
Ryan Sayers is the elected District Attorney of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania.
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