Most traffic tickets are Class C Misdemeanors and only require a small payment of fines. Individuals who are charged with Class B Misdemeanors and higher can face a burdensome length of criminal defense. A qualified criminal defense attorney can shorten that process.
What Is the Length of Criminal Defense?
The length of your criminal defense will depend on many factors. At best, the criminal defense process will take a few months. For many, criminal defense length can take several months or even years.
Here are several factors that can influence the amount of time you spend in the legal system.
1. Type of Charges
The level of your offense will play a large role in the length of your criminal defense. In general, the more serious the alleged crime, the longer your defense council will need to get you the best results.
District attorneys generally are eager to move low-level crimes through the court process. Misdemeanors are lesser crimes while felonies are crimes that can come with multi-year sentences.
If your lawyer believes that you have a good case, a jury trial may be ideal. Jury trials take longer to start than plea bargaining.
2. Quality of Your Defense
One reason you hire a defense lawyer is to ensure a speedy criminal defense. Your legal counsel will explain the merits of accepting plea bargaining versus seeking a judge or jury trial.
When your freedom is on the line, you should only work with dedicated criminal defense attorneys who have 10 years of experience or longer.
3. COVID-19-Related Delays
COVID-19 delayed criminal jury trials that were already heavily backlogged. One Georgia judge recently said jury trials may be backed up for years. As cases do resume jury trials, they are generally handled in the order that they were filed.
If your case depends on plea bargaining, delays will be less extensive. Many counties will be eager to clear their dockets of old cases.
4. Your Court Docket
Most counties have multiple criminal courts. Each court has a judge and staff. The length of your criminal defense will partly depend on which court you have. The court you end up in is completely out of your lawyer’s control.
Every county will have varying delays. Densely populated counties tend to have longer backlogs of cases.
5. What Is (and Isn’t) In Your Control
It may sound like many factors are out of your control. The criminal justice system is generally onerous for defendants. As the process begins, your criminal defense lawyer will work collaboratively with you to find the best results for you.
Your lawyer will give his or her best advice, but it will ultimately be the defendant’s choice on whether to accept plea bargaining or a trial.
What to Expect From the Criminal Defense Process
Whether you are arrested for DUI or a more or less serious crime, follow these three basic steps following your arrest.
- Remain silent
- Comply with all orders
- Ask for a lawyer
Being arrested can be an emotional ordeal. This is especially true when it appears that you were falsely or unjustly arrested. Remember, your vindication will come later.
Keeping a cool head and complying with peace officers will ensure that you do not accrue additional criminal charges.
Meetings with Legal Counsel
During the length of your criminal defense, you will meet with your defense lawyer. These meetings allow you to learn about how long your legal defense will take.
Come with questions. A well-informed defendant is better suited to make the best decisions during the length of criminal defense.
The meetings can explore what plea bargaining options mean. Should your case go to trial, your lawyer meetings will focus on preparing you to testify and other important topics.
Pretrial Services and Court Meetings
The length of your criminal court process will include possible monthly meetings with a pretrial detention officer. Depending on your alleged offense, the officer may ask if you have used drugs or alcohol or committed any actions you are not allowed to. Not every defendant undergoes pretrial services.
Separate from those meetings will be court dates. Court dates are mandatory. Failing to attend a court date can result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
During your regular court dates, the district attorney may or may not present a plea bargain. The offerings can range from acquittals (rare) to probation or time served. With the help of your lawyer, you will decide if the offer is desirable.
The district attorney may offer a more desirable offer at later court dates. During the first few court dates, no offers may be made.
When Does My Criminal Defense End?
Even if you are given probation, there are many reasons why you will need to continue working with a lawyer. At the end of your probation, your charges will be dismissed. During that period, your defense lawyer may be needed to ensure that you meet all of your legal requirements.
A jury or judge that finds you not guilty is another way that your criminal defense may end. There is always the possibility of being found guilty of a crime. In that case, it would be up to a judge to determine the punishment.
Reduce the Time and Hassle Out of Criminal Defense
The criminal defense process can be a truly complicated one and therefore you need to prepare it carefully. Having professional lawyers is the answer to that. They will save you a lot of time and money and you will be able to prepare for the trial and hope to win it, which would be a massive deal. If you decide to go without a lawyer, you risking too much. To start your criminal defense process, view Jarrett Maillet’s website here.