If a “Plea Agreement” has been reached between defense counsel and the prosecutor, and the Defendant chooses to accept it, then the Defendant can plead at the Pretrial Conference to whatever charge has been negotiated. When a “Guilty Plea Proceeding” is conducted, it takes roughly five minutes. The Defendant can then be sentenced at that time and his case will be concluded with the court system. This assumes, of course, that the Defendant then complies timely with whatever terms his Plea Agreement entails. If the terms of the Plea Agreement are not complied with, the judge can then issue an “Order to Show Cause” which will force the Defendant to come back into court to explain why he has not satisfied the terms of his plea. In felony cases, the Change of Plea and Sentencing cannot occur on the same date and a much more elaborate process is involved.
If a Plea Agreement is not reached during the Pretrial Conference phases, a Defendant can then have his case set for trial (either “Jury Trial” or “Bench Trial”). A Jury Trial would be comprised of six jurors from the community. A Bench Trial would involve doing the trial directly to the judge.