A pre-filing meeting is a very proactive approach. A pre-filing meeting works this way:
Before the prosecutor even makes a decision to file criminal charges, and well in advance of the client’s arraignment date in court, the attorney makes a written request for a meeting with the local prosecutor. The purpose of the meeting is to present mitigating or exonorating evidence or information that is, or may be, unknown to the prosecutor. The hope is that this additional information will add further context to the circumstances of the alleged offense, and thereby cause the prosecutor to refrain from filing any charges and ultimately “reject’ the case. The evidence or information presented to the prosecutor may include, but is not limited to eyewitness statements, private investigator reports, and photographs/audio recordings.
In certain criminal cases, a pre-filing meeting can be a very effective tool because even if does not result in the case being rejected outright, it may shorten tremendously the time it takes to get the case resolved. The reason being, that by sharing relevant evidence/information with the prosecutor at this early stage, the attorney has provided reasons for the prosecutor to consider lesser charges and therefore, less punishment. And, if the offer remains unacceptable to the client, the case can still be pursued to a better resolution at a later date.
During a pre-filing meeting, the attorney must be well-prepared to advocate for the client, and anticipate any argument or objection the prosecutor may have to the attorney’s proposal to have the case rejected. Finally, a pre-filing meeting is most effective when the attorney is familiar not only with the facts of the case, but also with the local prosecutor. Consequently, an attorney’s reputation for trust and respect in a prosecutors’ office is a great way to begin a meeting!