Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
These preliminary court dates can be confusing but they are hugely procedural and should not cause you any concern.
If you are the defendant, your attorney should keep you updated on what is going on. If you are NOT the defendant, but perhaps a witness or victim, the prosecutor's office should keep you updated on what is going on. Even if you are not involved with the case, the facts are public record. You stated you have been utilizing the internet to stay current, you could also contact the clerk of court or the prosecutor, if you get a helpful person on the phone, they would likely be happy to assist you. To help ease your mind, this going back and forth with types of court appearances is completely normal.
If you watch any crime shows, you've probably heard the terms "NCIC/FCIC". This refers to a national criminal database and it is utilized by prosecutors all across the country. I am a former prosecutor and I used to get a background check on EVERY case that came in. As you might imagine, part of sentencing is the person's criminal history. I can assure you that the prosecutor has the defendant's complete criminal history.
I hope you found my answer helpful. If so, please click on the green ACCEPT for my answer. This is necessary for me to be paid for my work and so that I can get credit for assisting you. Your question will not close, and you will still have the opportunity to follow-up if needed. Leaving a bonus and positive feedback is not required, but doing so is certainly appreciated! Thank you and good luck!
Every county in every state utilizes a slightly different system so I have to base my answer on my experiences in a variety of state and federal courts.
I'll take them in what is likely there chronological order....
A preliminary hearing is likely very procedural in nature and is probably used to address basic issues such as setting a bond, arraigning the defendant on the charges and appointing a public defender, if appropriate.
Pre-trial disposition is essentially a status hearing where the judge simply wants to know if the case is 1) a plea 2) a trial or 3) needing to be continued to another date.
If the case is continued, it is "reset" and begins the cycle back to a pre-trial disposition docket.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).