How Long Will my Criminal Case Take? (Part 2)

Happy Friday, everybody. I hope you all had a great week, and we are back for video two of our two video series on how long will my criminal case take. Yes, I realize I’m wearing the same shirt as last week because, spoiler alert, I recorded these at the same time, I just didn’t want the video to run for 15 minutes. Anyway, last week we talked about some of the variables that are outside of our control; how long it takes for a detective to investigate, how long it takes the intake division to make a charging decision on what they’re going to do. Now we’re going to focus on the variables that are really more within our control as your defense lawyer.

This is where I try to stress to people that the speed at which we resolve your case is more often than not a very strategic decision. What I mean by that is, in most criminal cases, time is your friend, not the state’s or not the government’s. There are a lot of things that can happen during the pendency of a criminal case in which slow playing it or dragging it out can be to your direct benefit. I’ll give you some examples. We’ve worked some DWI cases, one of which was fairly recent, where we dragged it out over a sort of long period of time because we were just biding our time and getting things ready. During that time, the officer that arrested our client actually picked up a criminal offense of his own. Now, the state was put in this predicament where the officer that they would be putting on the stand to testify against our client was a criminal himself. Right? That put them in this situation where they were forced to really give us an aggressive, aggressive plea offer to try to overcome that situation.

That’s one. Another situation that has happened in our cases, if we’re working an assault case where two individuals get into a fight and one gets charged with assault. As we slow play that case, as we drag that case along, the alleged victim in that case loses motivation to really prosecute. I mean, once we get six months, eight months, a year down the road, that person is like, “Look, at this point, I don’t care. I don’t care what happens. I don’t want to show up and testify. I don’t want to take time off. Just do whatever you got to do to get rid of this.” That can be to your direct benefit.

Similarly, the alleged victim, I’ve had this happen in an assault case, picks up their own criminal case, or they pick up an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Now, the point I’ve been trying to make to the prosecutor this whole time that, “Hey, my client was not the aggressor, the other guy started it,” now that holds a lot more weight because now the other guy has picked up a new assault case. Again, strategically by slow playing it, you allow those things to develop.

Then, there’s really the real world component of prosecutors, just like anybody in any job, they get overloaded, they get worked, they get bogged down. As cases sit on the bottom of their inbox, they lose motivation to really go after those cases. You might get to a point where a case is so old, a DA’s like, “Look, what do we need to do just to get rid of this thing? I mean, if I make you this aggressive offer, will you just make this go away?” Absolutely, right? Those are all ways that slowing down this case can really help you.

Now, on the flip side, there are some times when, strategically, it makes more sense to speed things up and to get a case resolved as quick as possible. I had a client one time that was charged in one county, County A. That case was pending. We had a court date, we were getting ready to go and appear our first appearance, and while we were waiting for that, he got arrested for the same type of charge, not the same offense, but the same type of charge in another county, in County B. Strategically, it made sense, we need to take care of County A as fast as humanly possible before they find out about what’s going on in County B, because if they find out about what’s going on in County B, they are not going to give me a very good deal. Right? Strategically, it made sense. We got to get that person through the wicket as quickly as we can, because it’s in their best interest to do so.

Likewise, if we get the sense that the state, for whatever reason, they’re not ready. They are not ready for trial. There are things out there that they need that they don’t have, that they’re not going to be able to get, it might make sense to speed things along and force them to go to trial before they’re fully prepared. Those are the strategic decisions that we’re making to try to determine, do we speed things up or slow things down? Those are things that are within our control, and that’s something where you can have an open dialogue with your defense attorney on what’s the strategy here, but we won’t know if we need to slow play it or fast play it until we get into the case. When you come in for that initial consultation, you say, “How long is this going to take?” That’s why the answer is really, I don’t know right now, because a lot of those strategies have to be developed as the case progresses.

Again, I hope this answers some of your questions. I hope this sheds a little bit of light on how long these cases take, because the answer is, really, I don’t know. As always, if there’s anything else out there that you’re concerned about, want to talk to me about, ask questions about, please feel to shoot me an email, visit us online, let us know, and I’d be happy to answer any questions that I can. Until then, hope you guys have a great weekend, and I’ll see you all next week.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

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