Many clients get nervous about going to court. They imagine they will have to speak to the judge, or that they will need to testify, or the police will be there to confront them about their case. The truth is most settings in Kaufman County can be pretty dull for the defendant. We have three routine (and sometimes boring) settings for Kaufman County criminal cases- first settings, announcements, and PNCs.
A first setting, is well, your first setting. It’s the first time you appear in court for your case. On misdemeanor cases, this is usually 2-3 months after your arrest. Some cases take longer, for example, if you have a DWI with a blood test that could take a few months to get the result. Felony cases have to be indicted by a grand jury, and that can take 4-6 months or longer.
What happens at a first setting?
If you’ve hired me, (which you should, you will suck at being a defense lawyer) then I will ask about the plea offer, see if discovery is ready to be picked up, and get your case reset so you can leave.
Discovery is what we call the evidence the State has; police reports, witness statements, lab results, and videos, etc. It is common to pick this up in court in Kaufman County.
99% of the time we will reset, or “pass” case at the first setting. It’s rare we take the State’s first plea offer, and if Discovery isn’t ready, we can’t do anything anyway. For the client (you) that means you will get to court, check in with the bailiff (Sheriff Deputy with a clipboard) and wait for me to get there.
If I don’t see you, or if it’s been a while and I don’t remember your face (it happens), I’ll call your name out in the hallway. Just flag me down and we’ll talk.
Wait a minute, if nothing is going to happen do I have to show up?
Yes, even if we know beforehand the case will be reset you must appear in court. For example, your prosecutor might be in another trial, or at a seminar, or on vacation so we can’t do anything on your case. Doesn’t matter, you still have to show up and sign the pass slip or you will have a warrant issued and your bond forfeited. All Kaufman County judges require you to appear in court. I know it sucks to miss work when nothing is happening, but it is what it is.
PNC and Announcement Settings
PNC stands for Plea Negotiation Conference. The prosecutor and I negotiate, or just talk about what’s going on with the case. Sometimes I want a reset to review more evidence, or meet with my you about something. Sometimes the prosecutor wants to investigate an issue I’ve told them about, or consider an alternative plea offer. All these things take time that we won’t have in court so we will need to reset the case.
Announcement settings are the same thing as a PNC. The phrase used to mean you would “announce” to the judge what is going on with your case (trial or plea etc. ). But our judges are busy and don’t have time for that shit. Unless your case is old or has some other weird issue, it’s pretty rare the judge will inquire about it. In general, judges want misdemeanor cases to move faster, and understand that felony cases can take a while. You should expect a misdemeanor case to be reset 2-3 times at least, and a felony case 5-6 times. After that, you should be ready to make a decision on whether to plea or take it to trial.