and trial, the judge may hold "pretrial hearings" to
decide some matters. Many matters may be argued at trial while
jury and witnesses wait, potentially delaying the trial while
complex legal arguments and facts are argued.
Pretrial hearings can make
trials run more smoothly and even prevent some trials from
For example, a judge can hold a
pretrial hearing to decide whether to throw out evidence that
police obtained illegally, perhaps because the police made an arrest
without probable cause. Illegally obtained evidence should not
be heard by the jury, so the judge must determine whether
evidence was illegally obtained before it can be allowed in
front of the jury. A judge cannot make such a decision before
hearing what happened. Having the judge hear testimony while a
jury waits can be avoided by having a pretrial hearing.
Another important function of
pretrial hearings is "discovery", a process in which
the judge can order the prosecutor to give evidence to the
Generally, a judge is not
required to hold pretrial hearings, but most do. Some judges set
pretrial hearing deadlines in every case, while others require
the prosecutor or defense attorney to initiate hearings where
Pretrial hearings can also set
ground rules for trial, such as determining whether a witness
must appear or whether witnesses can say certain words.
There is no end to what may be
considered in a pretrial hearing. It depends only upon the
originality of the attorneys and the willingness of a judge to
hear the argument.
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are for people 21 years or older, do not involve enhancements,
are not exclusive, and are limited to Texas.
**This page is for
informational purposes ONLY and must not be relied upon as legal
advice because it is NOT a substitute for the advice of a qualified
attorney, nor does it establish an attorney-client
Not certified by the Texas
Board of Legal Specialization.