Central to the Differentiated Felony Case Management (DFCM) system is the concept that each court event should involve timely action and meaningful progress toward case disposition. The system recognizes the need to administer different categories of cases based on their individual issues and complexity.
Initial Appearance Setting
The first setting for each felony case is the Initial Appearance Setting (IA) which is conducted in the magistrate court. The purpose of the IA is to ensure that each defendant has an attorney on all pending cases. A case will not progress to the next court event until the defendant is represented on all cases.
The Consultation Setting (CN) is conducted in the assigned district court and includes all of a defendant's then pending cases.
In all cases where a defendant is represented by retained counsel, the CN will occur as soon as practical following the date of the return of an indictment, allowing for reasonable notice to all parties.
In all cases where a defendant is represented by appointed counsel, the CN will occur pre-indictment in order to allow the opportunity for appointed counsel to meet and consult with the State in order to allow, if possible, a prompt and just resolution of the case. Continued compliance with all bond conditions and the Felony Public Appointment Guidelines will also be monitored at this setting.
Prior to the CN, the assigned prosecutor will be expected to thoroughly review the case(s) and arrive at a considered and informed plea agreement offer, at least on cases within the Expedited and Basic case tracks. The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office has agreed that their files will be open to the attorney of record on all cases. The defense attorney is expected to have thoroughly reviewed the State's file, to have consulted with the defendant, and to have begun any necessary investigation. At the CN the defense attorney is expected to convey the plea agreement offer to the defendant and to present any motions necessary to complete investigation of the case.
If a plea agreement is reached at the CN, the parties will be expected to complete a Written Plea Admonishments document. After this is done the parties can proceed through the plea proceeding and sentencing, proceed through the plea proceeding and defer sentencing, or defer the plea proceeding and sentencing. All deferred plea proceedings will be conducted during non-jury weeks.
If a plea agreement is not reached on a probation revocation case at the CN, the court coordinator will schedule the case for a hearing during the next available non-jury week.
If no plea agreement is reached on a case by the conclusion of the CN. The case will proceed to an Evidence Exchange Setting.
Evidence Exchange Setting
The Evidence Exchange Setting (EE) will be conducted in the assigned district court. By the EE the State is expected to have completed all necessary investigations, to have consulted with any necessary persons, and to have the relevant reports available in court.
At the EE, the State is required to disclose the existence of biological or other complex evidence, the testing of which could require that the case be moved to the Complex Case Track.
Any agreed discovery must be completed before the parties are excused from the setting.
Meaningful plea negotiations are encouraged at this setting. If a plea agreement is reached, the plea proceeding may be scheduled as contemplated at the Consultation Setting.
If no plea agreement is reached on a case by the conclusion of the EE, the case will be scheduled for a Motion Setting.
The State and defendant must file all non-constitutional motions 10 or more days before the Motion Setting (MD) as required by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
If no plea agreement is reached on Basic or Complex Case Track cases, the parties will receive a Status Conference date.
The last case setting before trial is the Status Conference (SC). Meaningful plea negotiations are encouraged. At the SC, the Court may accept negotiated and non-negotiated pleas of guilty. After the SC, the Court may refuse to accept any negotiated guilty plea. If no plea of guilty is entered at the SC, the parties will be required to complete a Status Conference document. The defendant will also be expected to execute the necessary trial motions with the district clerk, such as an application for probation and an election of punishment. After completion of the forms, the case will be set for trial within four to six weeks.
More information and all forms may be obtained in the courtroom.
County Telephone Operator 817-884-1111
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