A question I often get asked is, “How long is my criminal case going to take?” Unfortunately right now, I’ve got to give you the lawyer answer on this one, which is, “It depends.” And it’s going to depend on a number of factors, many of which actually depend on the client and what their goal.
What “It Depends On You” Means
A typical criminal case can take anywhere from a month or two up to a little more than a year, which is not that uncommon for a case to get all the way to a trial. Now, what I mean by, “It’s going to depend on you,” it’s going to depend on what your goals are, what do you want to have happen with the case? Many people that come through my door are stressed out about the case, but also feel like they have no options. They feel like they just want to get the case over with, take their punishment, their probation, whatever it may be, and just be done with it. They just want it over with, all right? And that happens a lot.
Sometimes we agree with the client. We look at the facts of the case, we look at what we have in front of us, and we say, “You know what? Taking a plea on this thing isn’t the worst idea.” And then we work to get them the best plea we can possibly get them under the circumstances with as little punishment as possible. Hard time speaking this morning. That’s our goal, obviously, is to make sure they have the least punishment possible in any case.
How We Approach a Case and Some Examples
Now, typically speaking, the way I approach a case and the way my firm approaches cases is — we want to take a look at everything, dissect it, and see if we can actually win the case. That’s goal number one for me, but it’s not always the goal for the client. I recently had a client with a drunk driving case, and he caused a small accident. He was very drunk, he did a lot of the things we tell people not to do, which is he took the field sobriety test, he took the breathalyzer, and it was going to be a really hard case to beat anyway, but he just wanted it over with. He understood what he did, he just wanted to take responsibility, take his punishment, and move on. So his case only took a couple of months.
Now on the flip side of that, we had a kid who just went to trial a few months back, before COVID, that just finished just before COVID. That case took over a year, and was a very complicated sexual assault case. There was a bunch of discovery, meaning documents, videos, other things that we had to get, and that all takes time. Also, just getting on the court’s calendar for an actual trial date and getting that trial done is a process. It can be a long process.
There also may be a case where maybe the person has a good motion in the case. What I mean by that is — a motion is just a fancy word for you’re asking the court to do something. Many motions are a great way to end a case. This typically works good with possession cases, possession of guns, possession of drugs. We had this other client who was a pharmaceutical sales rep, but unlicensed. So he was a drug dealer, let’s just say that, and he would sell pills. He got caught, he came to us, and we were able to finish his case in about four months. The reason for that is because he had a great motion what they call to suppress, meaning that the police searched him illegally. When they do that, we can file a motion to suppress, in other words, keep out of evidence anything they find, and that as a result ended his case.
The case is going to depend upon the facts of the case, good or bad, what we think we can do with them, how long it takes to get discovery, and if you have any good motions to the case. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. But if you have to go all the way to a trial expect that the criminal case is going to take probably a year, sometimes a little bit more, depending on the case.
If you have any questions about your case, about how the criminal case process goes or any of this, please feel free to leave me a comment, give me a call, or shoot me an email. I’d be happy to discuss it with you. All right, thanks a lot. Have a great day.