How long a criminal case lasts depends on numerous factors, only some of which you can control. These dynamics could affect the duration of your case:
- The complexity of your case
- How long it takes to investigate and collect evidence
- How the prosecution wants to proceed
- Whether your case goes to trial
- Whether you hire a criminal defense lawyer
What Makes a Case Complicated?
The presence of multiple charges can complicate your case. For example, driving under the influence (DWI) is one charge with a potential set of consequences. However, per TX Penal Code § 49, the district attorney could simultaneously charge you with multiple alcohol-related offenses. Other charges include:
- Driving while intoxicated with a child under 15 in the car
- Driving with an open container of alcohol in the car
- Intoxication assault (i.e., causing “serious bodily injury” in an accident)
- Intoxication manslaughter (i.e., causing a fatal accident)
- Possession or purchase of alcohol (if you are a minor)
Each of these charges comes with a set of possible penalties. Both the prosecutor and your attorney will investigate and negotiate every charge. If the case goes to trial, a jury will have to consider whether you are guilty or not guilty on each count. All of this can make your criminal case last longer.
What Goes Into an Investigation?
If your case is straightforward, the prosecutor and your defense attorney might require less time to build their arguments. During their investigations, they will:
- Interview witnesses and relevant experts
- Examine all pertinent video footage or photographs
- Ask for reports or test results from the police or other authorities
- Request to have old tests redone
- Visit the scene of the alleged crime
The time it takes to accomplish these tasks depends on the availability and willingness of witnesses to testify, how many documents they must sort through, whether requests are filed on time or lost in the system, and more.
Can I Take a Plea?
Accepting a plea deal is just one way of shortening your case. The prosecution may offer a deal to guarantee a conviction or if they have many other cases that they need to clear from their desk.
A plea bargain could benefit you in several ways. First, by agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge, you avoid the possibility of suffering under the more onerous penalties associated with the original charge. You would also not have to go through the stress of a trial.
That said, plea deals are not always the best solution. Others include:
- Reducing the charges: Unlike a plea deal, charge reduction does not require you to enter a plea right away. You would still have the chance to argue your case in court; however, you would face a lighter charge with lighter penalties.
- Asking for a dismissal: If there is evidence of prosecutorial or police error or your lawyer builds an especially compelling case, the judge may agree to dismiss some or all of the charges against you. Either would shorten or end the matter.
- Going to trial: Sometimes, it is not possible to secure a deal that supports your best interests for various reasons. A criminal trial may then prolong your case.
Will My Case Go to Trial?
There is a good chance you will not have to go to trial. A lawyer can shorten your case through pretrial negotiations. However, if no beneficial deals are on the table and your lawyer believes you have a good chance of winning in court, they might suggest that you take your chances with a trial.
A trial can be stressful and even scary, but a criminal defense attorney can guide you through every step. They can ensure that the entire process moves as smoothly as possible by:
- Filing all necessary forms and exhibits on time
- Locating and preparing witnesses to testify
- Questioning witnesses for both sides on the stand
- Delivering oral arguments
- Monitoring the prosecution’s behavior and filing objections if they do something wrong
Why Is Consulting a Lawyer Important?
Law firms know the ins and outs of the legal system. They can use this knowledge to streamline criminal cases and help clients avoid mistakes that could lengthen or negatively affect their case.
Criminal law is often complicated and even intimidating, especially when you know that your future is on the line. However, a criminal defense attorney can work with you to ensure that your case moves as swiftly as possible without sacrificing your rights.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
We Can Represent You From Beginning to End
Regardless of how long a criminal case lasts, the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg stands with our clients every step of the way. Call (214) 696-9253 for a free consultation today. Our entire team is dedicated to helping Texas residents just like you navigate and receive fair treatment from the legal system.