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A Pre-Indictment Conference (PIC), also known as Early Disposition Conference (EDC) or Pre-Indictment Program (PIP), is an initial court appearance whereby the prosecution will generally be making their initial plea offer. PIC is only available for those charged with indictable offenses, also known as felonies. Anyone charged with a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) would not be eligible for a PIC. It is important to note here that not every indictable case receives a PIC hearing and whether or not a Defendant receives a PIC hearing is in the sole discretion of the prosecutor’s office.
Scheduled for Pre-Indictment Conference in Mercer County?
If you have been charged with an indictable offense in Mercer County and are currently scheduled from a Pre-Indictment Conference, we strongly recommend that you retain the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. As you will see below, there are some rather significant advantages to being able to workout a resolution of your case in PIC. To speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys on staff at Proetta & Oliver, please contact our Hamilton office at 609-789-0779. One of our lawyers would be glad to sit down and speak one-on-one with you about the pros and cons of Pre-Indictment Court.
What Happens at an Early Disposition Conference?
Prior to the EDC hearing, which mentioned above is also known as PIC and PIP, the prosecution will provide defense counsel with discovery and generally their initial plea offer. The prosecution may also tell the Defendant that their initial offer is considered their “best offer”, however, that is not always the case and this is where an experienced defense attorney can really help evaluate the case.
At the EDC hearing the Defendant will be required to decide whether they would like to formally accept the State’s plea offer or reject the offer and mark the case for what is known as Grand Jury. If the Defendant rejects the State’s offer, the case will be sent through the traditional methods of prosecution. If the Defendant accepts the State’s offer, they will then have to formally waive their right to have their case presented to a Grand Jury and proceed by way of Accusation. If this is to occur, the Defendant would enter their plea and the case would be listed for sentencing. Once the sentencing occurs, which is usually several months down the road, the case would be resolved.
Can My Case Get Downgraded at a Pre-Indictment Conference?
Yes. During a PIC hearing, defense counsel can seek to convenience the prosecution that the indictable charges should be downgrade to disorderly persons offenses and remanded back to the local municipal court. The reasons for such are endless but some of the most common reasons are the following:
- Seriousness of the Offense;
- The Defendant’s Criminal History;
- Potential Miranda Violations;
- Potential Probable Cause Issues;
- Potential Co-Defendant Issues;
- Potential Search and/or Seizure Issues.
It is important to note here that none of the above issues can actually be litigated during the Pre-Indictment Conference. In order to formally litigate these issues, the case must be marked for Grand Jury and be litigated down the road. With that being said, these issues can be used in order to negotiate a better plea deal and/or a downgrade.
Does Everyone Get a Pre-Indictment Conference?
No, to receive a PIC hearing, the Defendant must first be charged with an indictable offense. Then it is entirely up to the prosecutors office whether they would like to give the Defendant a PIC hearing. Some of the most common indictable offenses that receive a PIC hearing in Mercer County include but are not limited to the following:
- Aggravated Assault;
- Unlawful Possession of a Weapon;
- Heroin Possession;
- Terroristic Threat;
- Marijuana Distribution.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Pre-Indictment Conference in Mercer County NJ?
As you can see from above, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can make a tremendous difference at a Pre-Indictment Conference. The ability to stream line the criminal process and workout a favorable resolution can be of a tremendous benefit for those facing serious criminal charges. If you would like to speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys at Proetta & Oliver about your options, then please contact our office at 609-789-0799. Our office serves of Mercer County, including Lawrenceville, Ewing, Hamilton, West Windsor, East Windsor, Trenton, Princeton, Robbinsville and Princeton.