In Clearwater, pre-trial hearing dates are scheduled approximately 1 to 2 months following the arraignment. This allows time for investigation and to gather information pertinent to the case.At a pre-trial hearing, the defendant and the State Attorney are given an opportunity to discuss the facts of the case and possibly reach a settlement. This process is commonly known as plea- bargaining. There may be several pre-trial hearings as new facts and evidence become available.
During the pre-trial phase, motions can be filed for the case on behalf of the defendant. Motions are a request to the judge to make a favorable order regarding the case. Typical motions filed in DUI cases in Clearwater are motions to suppress evidence obtained, such as the results of the breath alcohol test or field sobriety tests. Other motions include ones to force the State to turn over additional discovery, or motions to exclude statements or evidence that are prejudicial to the case. Some of the motions require the defendant to be present at court. Other motions do not require the defendant’s presence if the defendant has attorney representation.
A case may end during the pre-trial stage if an agreeable negotiation is reached between the State and the Defendant. If no agreement is made, the case will proceed to a pre-trial conference.