In Misdemeanor cases, the Pre-Trial Hearing generally takes place after the arraignment (sometimes referred to as the first appearance). At this hearing, the prosecution usually makes a plea offer for you to consider resolving your case. This plea negotiation can sometimes happen on the day of the Pre-Trial Hearing and sometimes it is made in advance of the Pre-Trial Hearing for your consideration before the hearing even takes place. In either event it is important to consider your options carefully about whether to accept a plea offer or take another course of action, such as challenging your case.
Before you even get to your Pre-Trial Hearing, the discovery in your case should be complete. This means that all the evidence the prosecutor has in your case, such as police reports, audio and video recordings, should be turned over to you or your lawyer. Having this evidence should help you determine whether you should file any motions in your case, such as probable cause challenges, search and seizure issues, or the admissibility of statements.
If you decide to challenge a pre-trial issue, you can ask the court at your pre-trial hearing to schedule a motion hearing. Some courts may call this Motion Hearing an Evidentiary Hearing or a Rasmussen Hearing. If you decide not to challenge a pre-trial issue in your case, then you can either plead guilty based on your plea negotiations with the prosecutor or plead guilty to the judge and allow them to pronounce your sentence. If you neither want to challenge a pre-trial issue, nor do you wish to plead guilty, then you can schedule the next phase of your case, which is usually a trial date. Some courts will schedule a Settlement Conference prior to your trial date.
In some Gross Misdemeanor and Felony cases, depending on your jurisdiction, the court may schedule your Pre-Trial Hearing after your Omnibus Hearing and before your trial date. If the court schedules your case in this manner, then it is usually to give the parties another opportunity to reach a settlement. It also gives the parties another opportunity to hash out any remaining issues in the case leading up to trial, such as scheduling for the trial, potential witnesses, exhibit lists, and any remaining motions. If you have your Pre-Trial Hearing shortly before your trial date in a Felony or Gross Misdemeanor case, then it is incredibly important to know whether you are headed towards settlement or trial, because the opportunities to settle your case are starting to run out. If you know you are set on having a trial, then it is a good idea to know how that trial is going to occur, logistically, and whether you have a preparation plan for it.