What is a Pre-Indictment Conference?
You were charged with a crime and it’s a doozy. You’re facing a punishment that includes years in prison plus massive fines. You’re nervous about just going to court, let alone what happens if you’re found guilty. However, instead of getting a court date, you are scheduled for a pre-indictment conference. What does this mean? Does that mean you won’t be going to jail?
Not exactly. If you’ve been arrested for an indictable offense, the prosecutor’s office will then determine whether it wants to pursue the case through a grand jury indictment. The prosecutor will examine all the evidence involved in the case, look over the police reports, and interview victims and witnesses to consider whether the charges can be prosecuted. Sometimes, if there isn’t enough evidence of the crime, the prosecutor will downgrade the charges to disorderly persons offense and send the case to the municipal court for a hearing. Sometimes, the charges will be dismissed altogether. And sometimes, the prosecutor will schedule a pre-indictment conference.
The PIC Process
A PIC is an attempt by the prosecutor to resolve the charges before the case goes in front of a grand jury. There’s generally very limited discovery and no negotiations.
This doesn’t mean the prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence against you. Usually, a PIC is scheduled after the prosecutor determines the following:
- How serious your alleged crime was
- How likely the prosecutor will obtain a conviction
- The expense and time involved in taking the case to court
Taking into account the above factors, the prosecutor may determine that it’s easier to present a plea bargain than take the case to court. This is when the PIC is scheduled.
At the conference, the prosecutor will give the plea offer and provide the defendant with limited discovery. The defendant will then make the decision of whether to accept the offer and enter a plea, reject the offer and take the case to court, or negotiate a better plea arrangement.
It’s important to explain what “limited discovery” means. The prosecutor will only present the most damaging evidence against you. This means there could be other evidence that could lessen the charges against you. This is why it’s important to have an attorney present at these meetings to make sure you get a fair deal.
Don’t Get Into a Pre-Indictment Conference Alone!
If you are scheduled for a PIC, you don’t want to attend the meeting on your own. You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side to argue your case and explain your legal options. Contact Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.