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The discussions of the prosecution and defense are conducted in private. One of the main reasons for this practice is that any information which is discussed in private cannot be used in the prosecution of the case. If the discussions were conducted in open court, there would be witnesses who could be called to testify about the case. It serves your benefit to allow this to happen. If the discussions with the prosecutor and your attorney do not yield a satisfactory disposition, the matter will be set down for a judicial pretrial. Most courts have a judge who controls the criminal docket. This judge is called the "presiding judge." This judge will sit as the final arbiter of the matter before it is determined that the case cannot be resolved without a trial. After a judicial pretrial, the Court will make an offer to resolve the case after hearing from the prosecution and the defense lawyer. The sides often propose different disposition possibilities and the judge listens to both sides to see what is a reasonable disposition given the legal and factual claims both sides make. If you, your attorney and the State agree on a disposition of the case you may be required to do a number of different things. Some of these things involve paying a fine, completing alcohol counseling or complying with probation. If you plead guilty to a crime (something which is punishable by some period of jail time) the judge must ask you a series of questions to determine if you are pleading to the information (the charges) knowingly and voluntarily. These questions ask you to waive your right to have a trial, act as a witness on your own behalf, call witnesses or defend against witnesses against you and remain silent. The judge must also agree to give you the disposition which you agreed to take. If the judge does not approve, the judge must allow you to withdraw your plea. Over the next few court appearances, the prosecution and your defense lawyer discuss the merits of your defenses.

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