There is also the ability of one to make an under oath statement during the pretrial, also known as a deposition. The deposition can be used in the trial or just in the pretrial, but this allows for both parties to be aware of the arguments or claims that are going to be made by the other party in the trial. It is notable that the depositions can be written or oral.
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David Brown practices law in the Monterey, California area, where he has represented both landlords and tenants in hundreds of court cases -- most of which he felt could have been avoided if both sides were more fully informed about landlord/tenant law. Brown, a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Santa Clara Law School, also teaches law at the Monterey College of Law and is the author of Fight Your Ticket in California, Beat Your Ticket and others.
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A criminal case may in some jurisdictions be settled before a trial through a plea bargain. Typically, in a plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge than that which was originally brought by the grand jury or prosecutor. A defendant who goes to trial risks greater penalties than would normally be imposed through a plea bargain.
A trial can to be the most risky option for resolving a case. This is because a third party, meaning a judge or jury, is determining your guilt or innocence. Even in the strongest of cases, judges and juries have found defendants guilty in the face of significant reasonable doubt. While you usually have appeal rights of some sort if you feel you are wrongfully convicted, you must be aware when opting for a trial that you are leaving your fate open to someone else’s decision making. This means that if you are found guilty, you are subject to whatever consequence the judge decides upon consistent with the law.
Instead of filing an answer within the time specified in the summons, the defendant can choose to dispute the validity of the complaint by filing a demurrer (in the handful of jurisdictions where that is still allowed) or one or more "pre-answer motions," such as a motion to dismiss. It is important that the motion be filed within the time period specified in the summons for an answer. If all of the above motions are denied by the trial court, and the defendant loses on all appeals from such denials (if that option is available), and finally the defendant must file an answer.