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What is the time between an arrest and trial in California?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Aug 09, 2019 | 0 Comments

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The time between an arrest and trial in California depends on whether the defendant committed a misdemeanor or a felony.

An accused has a right to a “speedy trial” in his criminal case under both the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 15, of the California Constitution.

California has provided further details on what “speedy” is with Penal Code 1382. According to this statute:

  • in misdemeanor cases, a defendant has the right to go to trial within 30-45 days of his arraignment.
  • in felony cases, a defendant has the right to go to trial within 60 days of his arraignment.

An arraignment typically takes place 48 hours to a few weeks after an arrest.

Please note that a defendant can always waive his right to a speedy trial. If this is done, there is really no hard-and-fast rule for how long the prosecution can wait to bring an accused to trial.

What is the time between a crime and trial for California misdemeanor offenses?

California Penal Code 1382 states that, in misdemeanor cases, a defendant has the right to go to trial within 30-45 days of his arraignment.

The time between an arrest and an arraignment in California misdemeanor cases is either:

  • 48 hours if the accused was placed in custody after the arrest, or
  • approximately 10 days if the accused was released following his arrest.

What is the time between a crime and trial for California felony offenses?

PC 1382 states that, in felony cases, a defendant has the right to go to trial within 60 days of his arraignment.

The time between an arrest and an arraignment in California felony cases is either:

  • 48 hours if the accused was placed in custody after the arrest, or
  • several weeks (or in some cases even months) if the accused was released following his arrest, or if he bailed out.

Can a defendant in California waive his right to a speedy trial?

A defendant can always waive his right to a speedy trial. If this is done, there is really no hard-and-fast rule for how long the prosecution can wait to bring the accused to trial.

Note, however, that if the prosecution shows unusual delay in bringing a defendant to trial, then the defendant can file a Serna motion with the court. Serna motions are filed by criminal defense attorneys as part of the pretrial process in California criminal law. A successful Serna motion will result in the criminal charges being dismissed.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of waiving the right to a speedy trial?

The decision as to whether an accused should waive his speedy trial right is a strategic one made between the defendant and his criminal defense attorney. And, the determination as to “waive or not to waive” carries definite advantages and disadvantages.

The main advantage to a waiver is that it gives the defense attorney more time to prepare for the trial. Trial preparation involves many things, including:

  • collecting and analyzing evidence,
  • finding and interviewing witnesses,
  • preparing witnesses for testifying in court, and
  • conducting legal research for motions.

This is just to name a few. Preparing for trial can be quite complex. If an attorney does not believe that he will be ready for a trial within 30-45 days or 60 days, then it is favorable for the defendant to waive his right.

The main disadvantage to a waiver is that sometimes a prosecutor will not be ready to go to trial within the time given by PC 1382. If this is the case, and a waiver is given, then the prosecutor can fully prepare for the trail. If, though, no waiver was made, there might have been a dismissal of charges due to ill preparation.

What is an arraignment in California?

An arraignment hearing is the first formal court proceeding in the California criminal law process. It follows an arrest. Simply put, this is the stage where

  • the court will advise the defendant of his Constitutional rights,
  • the defendant will find out the specific charges that have been filed against him,
  • the defendant will have his first opportunity to enter a plea, and
  • the court will set, modify, reinstate, or exonerate the defendant's bail.

The arraignment hearing takes place once the prosecuting agency (typically the local District Attorney's office or the local City Attorney's office) has filed formal charges. When the arraignment takes place is strictly regulated according to California law.

What are an accused's rights at an arraignment?

Both the United States Constitution and the California Constitution empower the defendant with a variety of rights during all criminal proceedings. During the arraignment, the judge (or, in larger counties, a prerecorded announcement) will advise the accused of these rights.

These Constitutional rights include:

  • the right to be represented by an attorney (which includes the right to be represented by a court-appointed public defender if a party is not able to afford a private criminal defense attorney),
  • the right against self-incrimination,
  • the right to a speedy trial the right to a trial by jury, and
  • the right to produce and confront witnesses.

If a defendant has been accused of committing an infraction, only some of these rights apply. For example, a defendant charged with an infraction is not entitled to a court-appointed attorney or a trial by jury.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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