Many of my clients become concerned when I recommend that we set their case for trial. Just the thought of trial can be stressful and induce anxiety. However, this is often the only way to get the best result in their case. Importantly, setting for trial does not necessarily mean that we go to trial. It simply means that we are ready and we want to place their case on the jury docket.
There are a number of reasons to do this. First, it forces the prosecutor to take a hard look at their case and to see if they actually want to try it on front of a jury. Sometimes, when a prosecutor actually phones potential witnesses and gives a hard look at evidence, they realize their case is not as strong as they thought.
Second, by setting a case for trial, you might make the prosecutor make the tough decision to drop your case (or give a very good offer) so that they do not waste their time on your case. This works especially well in felony cases for small amounts of drugs. Why would a prosecutor waste their resources prosecuting a minor cocaine offense, when there is an accused murderer waiting for trial. They would much rather plea out the drug case so that they can focus on the murder charge.
Third, and most important is actually exercising your right to a jury trial. A jury is required to give you the benefit of reasonable doubt. A jury is often times more lenient when it comes to sentencing as well. Depending on the offer presented by the prosecutor, in some cases, you have little to lose by going to trial. This can only be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but in many cases, the answer is to set for trial to force the prosecutor’s hand.