After the initial court date, there are usually a number of court dates called “pretrials,” “EDPs,” or “prelim settings.” You can think of these as “check-in” dates, as they are essentially a chance for us to get the DA and/or court to look at the case.
These may sometimes seem like a waste of time, but, when handled by a competent defense attorney, they are not. These dates are the period of the case where the magic happens! The purposes of these hearings vary on a case by case basis, but include:
Importantly, most of the time, the DA makes the offer that they claim is their “last best” offer before the preliminary hearing and tells us that it expires if the case goes to a preliminary hearing. (The purpose of this is to incentivize defendants to settle their cases early without the DA having to spend the time on a preliminary hearing.)
Ultimately, in most cases, after several rounds of negotiations and extensive work on the case, we get an offer that our clients are happy with during one of these check-in dates. But if the DA does not provide a good enough offer by the preliminary hearing or if the DA wants to see how the witnesses do at the preliminary hearing before making an offer (rare, but it happens), then it will be necessary to move forward with the preliminary hearing.