Status Hearings in Criminal Cases
If you are checking the docket in your criminal case, you may see something called a “Status Hearing.” These hearings are also sometimes referred to as “Call of the List,” or occasionally, “Disposition Dates.” These are all generally referring to the same thing, although different counties sometimes have distinctions between these different types of dates.
In general, a status hearing is simply a date for the judge to check in with the prosecutor, criminal defense attorney and the criminal defendant on how the case is going and whether it will be resolved without trial. Much of the criminal justice system is geared toward being efficient and dispensing with unnecessary trials. Judges can sometimes use these dates to encourage the parties to reach a plea agreement. A prosecutor might be working in advance of this date with your defense attorney to determine an appropriate plea offer in your case. Of course, guilty pleas aren’t the only way to resolve criminal charges. Status dates also allow the judge to schedule omnibus pretrial motion hearings, determining whether the prosecutor may nolle pros the case or whether a diversionary program is a possibility.
At a status hearing, if a plea is ready, the defendant can enter a guilty plea to the charges with the help of his or her attorney. Alternatively, if no plea is ready, the judge will sometimes offer a continuance, which means that a new date with be selected for a follow-up status hearing or a call of the list date. If an omnibus pretrial motion has been or will be filed, the judge may also just set a date for the hearing that accompanies the omnibus to determine whether the charges should be thrown out or any evidence suppressed. And of course, if the parties communicate to the judge that no deal can be reached and that any motions will not be filed, then the judge will set a trial date. The judge then will place the defendant on a trial list, so that a trial date can be set.
Contact a criminal defense attorney today if you have a status hearing coming up or have questions about how your status hearing works. It is important for you to have an experienced criminal defense attorney helping you with your case. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm to discuss your next steps and what your options are.