How many times can my criminal case be continued?
How fast or slow your case moves through the system should be a part of the overall strategy for your defense. The below information is meant for informational purposes and not intended to be legal advice. Be sure to speak with a criminal defense attorney before making any decisions on your case.
People who have been charged with a crime are usually very concerned about how long their criminal case is going to last before it goes to trial or there is some other resolution. Like most aspects of criminal law, how long your case will go on for, and how many continuances will be granted, will usually depend on several things.
Does your Judge tend to grant continuances or prefer to push cases forward?
Some judges are more laid back and have no issue granting many continuances, other judges like to keep their dockets “clean” and move cases along quickly. The best way to determine how a particular judge feels about continuance requests is to talk to the attorneys who practice before the judge on a regular basis. Also, most judges will have written requirements, such as the judges in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, that can provide information on how a particular judge feels about continuance requests, how they expect a continuance to be requested, and under what circumstances they will not grant a continuance.
Is there a lot of work that needs to be done in order to prepare the case?
If there is substantive work that needs to be done on the case, this can constitute “good cause” for a continuance. For instance, in criminal cases it is often important to conduct depositions where witnesses are questioned by the criminal defense attorney under oath. Sometime there can be difficulties finding witnesses or scheduling the depositions. Attorneys in criminal cases will also like to investigate certain aspects of the case and this can also take time. Also, in criminal cases there can be motions that need to be written and argued before a case is concluded.
What court date do you want to continue?
Usually, a Judge will grant a request to continue a pretrial conference or case management hearing, especially if it is the first time up and there have been no prior continuances. However, it can be more difficult to continue a docket sounding date or a trial date and most judges prefer that a request to continue a docket sounding date or a trial date be in writing and set for a hearing where a judge will listen to the attorneys for the Defendant and the State before making the decision to continue the case.