Facing the criminal justice system can seem daunting if you do not know what to expect. It could take months before you even receive a sentence, causing further disruption to your life.
There is not an easy way to determine how long your case will last, but there are several factors that can influence its length, both prior to and during your trial.
Pleas and settlements
Trials overall have been on the decline. Most cases actually settle before the trial even begins. Depending on your circumstances or the evidence provided, you could also choose to plead guilty for a far quicker resolution. However, pleading guilty to expedite the process could lead to more serious consequences.
Speedy trial limitations
You have the right to a speedy trial once you are in custody. For misdemeanors, trials must begin within 90 days. For felonies, trials must begin within 175 days. Otherwise, there is a possibility that the judge will drop the charges. You could waive your right if it is in your best interests to build a better defense case, but that will extend your stay in custody and delay your trial.
High-profile cases, even if just local, can draw extensive media attention. This makes it more difficult to find unbiased jurors. Jury selection involves finding a diverse but fair group, and a delay in that selection will push back the start date of your trial.
The complexity of the case
By comparison, felonies come with more severe consequences than misdemeanors, so misdemeanors resolve far more quickly. However, if your case involves multiple people or requires substantial evidence, the length of your trial can extend greatly.
No case is the same, but knowing your rights and your options can help you navigate the criminal justice system more efficiently.