How Long Will My Criminal Trial Last?

How Long Will My Criminal Trial Last?

When people come to me with criminal cases, one of the first things they usually want to know is how long it will take to get everything settled. I understand; it’s uncomfortable to live in what can feel like the limbo state of the process.

There are numerous factors involved in determining how long your case will last. Let’s take a look.

Factor #1: How Serious is the Charge?

If you’re charged with speeding, it’s likely that your case will be resolved relatively quickly. Three counts of first degree murder? That’s going to take a lot longer.

Factor #2: Are You Open to a Disposition?

As Boulder is a college town, I work with a lot of CU students, and I’ve noticed that college students don’t always have a firm grasp of practicality versus principle.

For example, say a student gets a ticket for running a red light. Usually they’ll say, “But it was yellow!” I’ll talk to the prosecutor and get the ticket reduced to a one-point ticket, which is a good deal. But often, the student will come back with, “I don’t care. I will never plead guilty to something I didn’t do. I’d rather spend $10,000 of my parent’s money going to trial and not plead guilty on principle.”

When this happens, I always remind the client that it’s going to be the cop’s word against his/hers. Generally, in Boulder, cops are viewed pretty favorably, and it’s pretty unlikely that the DA will dismiss the case. More often than not, it doesn’t change the client’s mind.

So, if a client is dead-set on sticking to their principles (“But I didn’t do it!”) versus taking a good deal to get the case over with so they can get back to their life, it will certainly affect how long it takes to settle everything.

Factor #3: Is There a Legitimate Defense?

Years ago, I was working on a DUI case. The consequences to my client would be disastrous if she took the deal; she would lose her job, and, as the primary breadwinner, her family’s financial security would be in jeopardy. The negative repercussions of taking the DA’s deal were so great that she couldn’t do it. Additionally, I thought we had a strong case.

As a result of the consequences and because we had a strong case, the client rejected the offer, and the case was pending probably for 10 months before we went to trial. We requested several continuances, where I continued to try and convince the prosecutor to give us a better deal. Ultimately, we had to go to trial, and my client was able to prevail so the financial insecurity the proposed disposition would have caused for her family with two small children was avoided.

Your Right to a Speedy Trial

Every American has a right to a speedy trial, which means that you have to be brought to trial within six months of your “not guilty” plea.

To avoid the possibility of speedy trial issues, prosecutors will frequently agree to continue a case before you enter your plea, or will agree to continue a case if you agree to extend speedy trial. In the DUI case I just mentioned, we agreed before my client entered her plea to two or three continuances so that we could gather more information and try to resolve the case.

If you show up on your first Court date, plead not guilty, and get a trial date set, your case may be resolved fairly quickly. If your attorney talks to the DA and convinces them that there are no grounds for the charge, the case may be over in a relatively short period of time.

In Summation…

The length of your criminal trial will depend on three primary factors:

  1. The nature of the charge. A minor infraction will be resolved more quickly than a serious one. Additionally, if your case is high profile and comes with much publicity, it may take longer.
  2. Your willingness to consider a compromise. If you’re determined to stick to your guns, the case will likely take longer to get resolved.
  3. Whether there are significant factual issues in the case. It takes time to gather evidence and find expert witnesses. This may extend the length of your case.

There are other less significant factors, e.g., your criminal history, if there is a victim, how adamant he/she is about the disposition, etc.

If you are dealing with a criminal charge, call our office today at 303-449-1873 to schedule a complimentary consultation and find out if Barre Sakol is the right representative for your case.

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