In criminal proceedings, a person charged with a crime has a right to a speedy trial. For those charged with California misdemeanors, that means you have a right to a speedy trial within 45 days, if you are not in jail, or 30 days if you are in custody. In felony matters, this means you have the right to a speedy trial within 60 days. Now in many cases, your attorney will need this much time, if not more, to gather evidence, discuss your case thoroughly with the prosecution and be sure they can provide you with the best possible defense.
In some instances, this may require that you agree to continue your case and “waive” your right to a speedy trial within 60 days. Each case is different and some situations may warrant a refusal to waive time, and exercise your rights to a speedy trial.
A violation of your right to a speedy trial, without your permission could result in serious consequences for the prosecution, and a huge benefit for the person charged with a crime, including dismissal of all charges.
Recently, I represented a client charged with a felony. I informed the client that he should not “waive” time and instead; exercise his right to a speedy trial. This advice was for strategy purposes, and I was prepared for trial within the time period.
On the last day in which the people could bring my client to trial, day 60, the Judge decided to continue my client’s case beyond those 60 days.
I objected to the continuance and informed the court that I was ready to start trial that day. Despite my objection, the Judge continued the trial and I filed an appeal challenging the courts ruling.
Eventually, the Court of Appeals sided with me and ordered the court to dismiss all charges against my client for violating his right to a speedy trial.
This strategy is not always a wise one, and going forward with a speedy trial has its own risks. The only way you will know whether you should waive or not waive time is to consult with a qualified experienced California criminal defense attorney.