The Court Process
Understanding the “Court Process” is important because it helps to understand the advice that that is given with respect to how to proceed with your case. That is because the only lens that we have to look at cases through is the “what would happen at trial” lens. With that in mind, the Lawrence Law Firm attempts to provide as much information as possible to help our clients make decision. The ultimate decision as to what happens is made by the client. We will advise, but the decision is the clients.
Criminal Defense Cases
A criminal case is started one of two ways. Either you are arrested or you are issued a summons. If you are arrested, you will be permitted a bond. The bond will be based off what you are charged with, your connections to the community, and whether you are a flight risk or not. Most individuals who contact the Lawrence Law Firm have already dealt with the issue of bond prior to retaining us.
The next steps in the process is advisement and initial hearings. The initial hearing can be called a pre-trial conference, arraignment, return on bond, or appearance of counsel hearing. During the initial stages, your attorney will be conducting their own investigation and obtaining discovery. The initial appearances are also when discussions concerning plea negotiations occurs with the prosecution. If no deal is made, the matter is set for trial.
Before the trial, the matter will be set for a motions hearing. Depending on the facts of your case, you may want to file motions to suppress evidence that the prosecution intends to use at trial or fight over other legal matters. Trial will occur after that.
Personal Injury Cases
The vast amount of personal injury cases do not proceed to trial or ever see litigation. Again, we speak about trial because that is the only way we know to look at cases. It is also how we value cases. If your case enters litigation, it is important to know that the process will not be quick. Personal injury litigation takes time. The first step is filing a complaint and serving it on the defendant. The defendant will then have a time to provide an answer. After the answer, the parties have an initial status conference to discuss how the case will proceed and ultimately decide on a trial date. Most trial dates are scheduled 6 months to a year from the date of this hearing. The case will then proceed to trial.
During the months between filing the complaint and the actual trial, work will be done on your case. The most work will occur in what we call the “discovery phase”. Trial are not done by surprise, and each side will attempt to obtain as much information as possible prior to trial. The first way this is done is through mandatory disclosures. These are documents required to be provided without the other side asking for them. The next is written discovery. Written discovery consists of interrogatories and request for production of documents. These are sworn questions that you will be required to ask. Finally, the other side will be entitled to conduct a deposition. A deposition is a basically a recorded conversation between a party and an attorney. After the discovery phases, the parties may be required to attend mediation.
Consult with an Attorney
If you think you have a personal injury case or are charged with a criminal offense, you should always consult with an attorney. Though the above seems straight forward, it is an over simplified description of the process. The legal system is complicated, and a consultation with the Lawrence Law Firm will not cost you anything.
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