If your case has been scheduled for a Dispositional Conference, you must be present and you will need a lawyer. Dispositional Conferences in Superior Court are usually scheduled for cases that carry a maximum potential sentence of 3½ -7 years in state prison or more. If you are unrepresented, or not properly represented, call Attorney Sweeney now for a free consultation at (603) 589-8015.
What is a Dispositional Conference?
The Dispositional Conference is a courtroom meeting between the prosecutor, defense attorney, and the judge. Prior to the Dispositional Conference, the prosecutor is expected to provide defense counsel with an initial plea offer. If the prosecutor has provided defense counsel with an initial plea offer, then defense counsel is expected to have discussed that initial plea offer with the client. When the plea offer has been provided and discussed prior to the Dispositional Conference, the lawyers will inform the judge whether (1) they have reached a plea agreement, (2) they expect to reach a plea agreement through further efforts, or (3) an agreement is unlikely and the matter should be scheduled for trial.
How do I prepare for a Dispositional Conference?
The client must be present at the hearing. However, the client will ordinarily remain in the back of the courtroom while the lawyers approach the judge at the “bench” and discuss the status of the case. The role of the client in the Dispositional Conference is to engage in the negotiation process through the attorney and participate in the plea and sentencing if agreement is reached.
The court will ordinarily make a scheduling order as part of the Dispositional Conference order. The scheduling order will notify the parties of the Final Pretrial Conference date, Jury Selection date, and deadlines for the filing of different types of motions. The lawyers will notify the court of any unusual issues they foresee that might impact scheduling.
Dispositional Conference hearings are usually brief. However, many Dispositional Conferences may be scheduled at the same time and vary in their ability to process large numbers of hearings scheduled simultaneously. It is best to be in the courtroom (not at the courthouse) 15 minutes before the hearing is scheduled to begin.