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How Long Does a Criminal Case Usually Take?

The period of uncertainty between receiving criminal charges and your case’s resolution can be anxiety-inducing, to say the least. On one hand, your freedom is up in the air, and you want closure as quickly as possible. On the other — particularly if you are not in custody — more time between your initial arrest and your trial means more time for your lawyer to craft a strong defense.

What Is the Timeline for a Typical Case?

The length of time it takes to resolve a criminal case varies depending on the severity of your charges, the jurisdiction, the court’s schedule, and the availability of witnesses and evidence. If a case goes to trial, it can take several months or even years to reach a verdict.

Time is an invaluable resource when it comes to conducting a thorough investigation. No one wants their time in Wisconsin criminal justice limbo to be drawn out any longer than it has to be, but rushing this crucial stage might mean that vital details that could strengthen your case are overlooked. With that being said, there are a variety of reasons why an accelerated timeline may be in your best interest. In some cases, our attorneys can negotiate a favorable plea deal, meaning the case is resolved prior to trial — further shortening the timeline for your case.

The Prosecution Has a Head Start

If you are not in custody, it is generally to your defense’s advantage to utilize all available time to allow our attorneys to “catch up” with the prosecution’s knowledge. When a case begins, the prosecution often possesses substantial information. They have the initial advantage. The more time that passes between your arrest and your trial, the more time your attorney has to diligently investigate, gather facts, and formulate counterarguments.

Can You Expedite a Criminal Trial?

In certain circumstances, pushing for an expedited trial, or continuance, may benefit the defense. This request typically arises when the prosecution’s case appears weak or lacks substantial evidence. By expediting the process, the defense aims to minimize any potential harm caused by an extended trial and capitalize on the prosecution’s unpreparedness. 

Time Plays a Crucial Role in Leveling the Playing Field

Time can play a crucial role in leveling the playing field between the prosecution and the defense in your case. By allowing sufficient time for preparation, investigation, and strategy development, defendants can strengthen their chances of mounting an effective defense. In some cases, however, our attorneys have pushed for expedited proceedings in circumstances in which the prosecution’s case is weak or when late entry into the case allows for focused and targeted strategies. Ultimately, a balanced approach that considers the unique circumstances of each case can lead to a favorable outcome.