Timeline of a Criminal Case FAQ

A video explanation of the timeline of a criminal case

Why do criminal cases take so long to resolve?

The court system is designed to minimize the chance that an innocent person is wrongfully convicted of a crime. This means that the process is slow and cautious.

What are the phases of a criminal case?

First, there is the administrative phase of a case. This is where the prosecutors file formal charges, the court administrator assigns the defendant to a judge’s court, and the clerk creates a file. This involves a surprising amount of paperwork and formal process. This phase is necessary to make sure everything is done correctly, and constitutional protections are respected. During this time, the evidence is released to the defense attorney (who looks for any evidence of innocence or constitutional issues with how the police behaved during the arrest).

The second phase is when the prosecutor and defense attorney attempt to come to some type of compromise (plea bargain or dismissal). This generally involves many back-and-forth discussions and further gathering of evidence. When the prosecutor has offered their final (and best) plea bargain (or dismissal), the defendant decides whether to accept the deal, or have a trial.

The third phase is either paperwork for the plea bargain (or dismissal) or preparation for a jury trial (or suppression hearing).

I hear you. But the real reason is that defense attorneys are just delaying the process to get paid, right?

No.

But you're a defense attorney. Of course you'd say that.

I am. You're just going to have to trust me.

I want the case to be over quickly so I can get on with my life.

I know. Everyone does. The only way to speed up the case is to agree to accept a bad result. If you want me to do that, I can probably cut the timeline in half. I do not recommend this, though. It is my job to do a thorough examination of the evidence, advise you on what to do while the case is pending, and see if we can get the case dismissed or reduce the punishment. In almost every scenario, I can reduce the punishment significantly if you follow my advice and be patient.

Ok. But please get the best result, in the fastest time.

I will!

I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS.

No problem. Give us a call – (512) 472-1113 – we’re happy to answer any questions. Or you can e-mail us.

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