Timetable of a Criminal Case

Tracy Tiernan - August 7, 2023 - Criminal Defense

You may have heard about legal cases that went on for what seemed like an eternity. If you read celebrity gossip websites, you will probably find recent updates on some couples’ divorce and child custody cases that have been going on for years, to the point where you might think that Kelly Clarkson and Phil Collins are as famous for their court battles as for their music.  

Likewise, the estates of some musicians and local business magnates have been subject to disputes even though the person who originally amassed the wealth died years earlier. Criminal cases, by contrast, move quickly, at least in theory. The law protects defendants in criminal cases from unreasonable delays in the criminal process. Defendants have the right not to wait for years before moving past their cases, whether that means starting a sentence and therefore being one step closer to finishing it or getting acquitted. The best way to get through the steps of your criminal case with a favorable outcome is to contact a Tulsa criminal defense lawyer.

The Arraignment: Entering a Plea

The law protects you against being detained for an extended period when you have not been convicted of a crime. Therefore, if police arrest you and book you into jail, the state must decide quickly whether to let you go, move forward with your case, or let you go while moving forward with your case. The arraignment is where a defendant appears in court, the judge announces the charges against the defendant, and the defendant enters a plea. In practice, the defendant already knows the charges before the arraignment; reading the charges out loud is a formality that goes back to the Middle Ages when most people did not know how to read.

If the defendant has been in jail since the arrest, then holding the arraignment within 72 hours of the arrest is a hard and fast rule. If the defendant was released after the arrest, it can be slightly later. If the defendant was indicted instead of being arrested in the heat of the moment, the arraignment is 72 hours after the indictment.

How Fast is a Criminal Trial?

You may have heard the phrase ‘speedy trial.” The right to a speedy trial comes from the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but the Constitution is not specific about how soon the trial must happen. The Speedy Trial Act of 1974 sets the deadline for the start of a trial at 70 days after the arraignment. The trial should not start sooner than 30 days after the arraignment because the defendant needs a fair chance to prepare his or her defenses. If the prosecutor or defense files pretrial motions, this can postpone the trial. You can file a motion to start the trial promptly if prosecutors are delaying it unnecessarily.

Contact Tracy Tiernan About Criminal Defense Cases

A criminal defense lawyer can help you exercise your legal rights in a criminal case. Contact Tracy Tiernan in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to discuss your case.

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