If you’re sitting in jail waiting on your trial or even out on bail, you probably don’t much enjoy living with the uncertainty surrounding your future.
However, even though you may actually be hoping for a speedy trial, your attorney might prefer to delay proceedings as long as possible.
It’s important to understand why this could actually be part of your defense strategy.
Why Defense Attorneys Gain Delays
Defense attorneys can’t simply ask the court for a continuance, or an official delay, without a good reason. Generally speaking, there are a few common reasons that a defense attorney is likely to ask — and be granted — a continuance:
- He or she needs more time to review the evidence against you. If there are boxes full of records in a fraud trial, for example, your attorney may need a substantial amount of time to read and evaluate all of the material before trial.
- Your attorney wants time to have an expert weigh in. Your attorney may want one or more expert witnesses to take a look at evidence in your case. For example, he or she may want you to be evaluated by a psychiatrist if your mental health is somehow relevant to your case.
- Your attorney may have a scheduling conflict. If your attorney is busy, he or she may have other trials on the docket that have to be handled before your trial begins.
How Delays Can Help Defendants
Unofficially, your attorney may be hoping that the delays in your trial will accomplish something else: Make it easier to win your case. Delays in a trial may play into a defendant’s favor in several ways:
- Witnesses may move away, die or simply forget important details. Those who do testify may seem less reliable the longer it has been since the incident at the heart of your trial.
- If your case made the news, any public furor over your crime may have long died down. That puts less public pressure on prosecutors or judges to be aggressive.
- Jurors tend to blame the state for keeping them away from their jobs and lives, which can bias them against the prosecution.
An attorney can provide more information about criminal defense issues.
Source: wiseGEEK, “What is a Continuance?,” accessed July 13, 2017