Here is the short answer, if you want to skip the rest of this post.
- I’ve had a case went from arrest to trial in about 3 and a half months.
- I’ve also had a case that took almost a year to go to the first trial date.
- Most cases are somewhere in between those extremes.
Lawyers generally have a limited amount of control over how quickly a DUI case can get to trial.
What are the different factors that affect how long it takes a case to go to trial?
Different courts are busier than others. Some judges try to get through cases as quickly as possible, and some courts are just slow, inefficient, or overbooked.
And on any given court date, we may show up and have done everything that we can, but there are more cases on for trial then there are judges available.
So cases often get continued for no fault of our own. It is also not uncommon that before the trial we get a call from the prosecutor to move the court date. Usually if they give us some advance notice, we have to agree.
Even if we object, the court will generally give the prosecutor another court date for reasons like the officer is unavailable because he is sick or he is injured, or has some sort of training scheduled that conflicts with his appearance as a witness. And occasionally the court will move the court date for their own internal reasons.
An important consideration, to the degree that we can affect the speed of the trial is: How quickly does the client want the case resolved?
I have some clients for whom the goal is to get this over with as quickly as possible. They just want to get this over with and move on with their lives. The case is causing them a lot of anxiety, and it is an unpleasant situation for them.
What Can You Do to Resolve A DUI Case More Quickly?
Occasionally we have cases where our client lives in another state, and it is difficult to travel to court dates. If they have to have to fly in and take time off from work, we may skip some legal defense steps that we would normally pursue.
In some cases, we would typically file a motion to supress based on an illegal stop. These motions can be longshots to actually win, so if time is critical, we may skip that motion and extra court date to move things along more quickly.
Some clients have medical issues, such as a bad back that caused the person to fail field sobriety exercises. Unfortunately, getting these records discovered, subpeonaed and entered into evidence can sometimes take a while. So if we are trying to fast track a case, we may skip this step.
I generally hate to skip steps that can really help to win the case, but if an extra month or two is a worse outcome than losing the case, then we always do whatever is in the client’s best interest.
What Can you Do To Resolve a DUI Case More Slowly?
We also have cases where our client has their driver’s license while the case is going on, so is able to function normally during the period up until the trial date. They realize that when the case is over, we may win or we may not. And if we lose, they are going to lose their driver’s license.
So it makes sense that the client is in no rush to get to trial. In those cases we may file motions that are more marginal, and if the case drags on that’s fine with the client.
The Best Outcome is Worth Waiting For
We try to focus on winning the case, or getting the best result for the client, regardless of how long it takes. (And since we charge flat fees for trials, it doesn’t cost you any more if it takes longer).
We want to always be prepared and use every defense advantage. What we don’t want is a situation where we are forced to take uneccesary risks due to time contraints.
I had a case last year where we were in court on the day of trial and for some reason there were no jurors scheduled for that day.
So we had a choice of having a bench trial in front of a judge because there were no jurors, or picking another court date. It was a new judge, so we just didn’t know what the judge was like. I didn’t want to try a case in front of someone who could have been a very tough judge, when I thought we’d have a good chance in front of a jury. So we were able to reschedule, and we ended up winning the case a couple months later.
For most people, the primary goal is to win the case. As frustrating as it might be, putting up with delays is simply part of the process.
Call me now for a free consultation on your Massachusetts OUI case, in any MA district court.
Attorney Russell Matson
Massachusetts Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer
(781)380-7730 – 24 hours a day