How long will it take for my case to be resolved?

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Posted in On May 16, 2024

Facing criminal charges is an incredibly stressful situation.  A question that we often get from our clients is how long the process will take for a case to be completed.  The short answer is that there are many variables that go into a criminal case’s timeline, but generally speaking, most judges have expectations for how long cases should remain open.

Misdemeanor and level 6 felony cases typically take anywhere from 30 days to 6 months to be resolved.  These cases often contain minimal discovery, or evidence.  In typical misdemeanor and low-level felony cases, the evidence is usually limited to witness testimony, and maybe photographs or surveillance video.  These items are often turned over quickly by the prosecutor’s office, and the defense can typically map out its strategy shortly after reviewing the evidence.

Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OVWI) cases are sometimes an exception to the timeline for misdemeanor and low-level felony cases.  Sometimes in OVWI cases, both the state and the defense are waiting on lab results, which can prolong the process.  However, there are circumstances which might cause OVWI cases to speed up.  If a minimal driver’s license suspension can be negotiated as part of a plea agreement, OVWI cases can sometimes be resolved short of receiving blood test results.

For more serious felonies, most judges have an expectation that the case will be resolved around 9 months from the initial hearing.  These cases typically have more voluminous evidence than lower level felony and misdemeanor cases.  Attorneys will also sometimes set up taped statements or depositions of witnesses, and scheduling those statements can prolong the process, especially if those statements are scheduled after the exchange of discovery materials.

Murder cases and sex offense cases take the longest amount of time to resolve.  The average murder case lasts about a year from the time of the initial hearing to the time of the disposition of the case.   Understandably, these cases contain the most evidence.  There are several technical witnesses that become involved in these types of investigations.  In murder investigations, there are several specialized witnesses that become a part of the case.  For example, a crime scene investigator is called to the scene to collect evidence.  A ballistics expert might examine any firearms evidence.  A pathologist will perform the autopsy.  A cell phone expert might examine cell phone data.  A DNA expert might analyze items of evidence to see if there is any DNA evidence present.  All of these witnesses create reports and sometimes it is necessary to depose or take statements of these witnesses prior to trial.

There are other factors that might prolong cases, such as how busy a given court is and how many cases are pending. For the most part, judges are extremely interested in moving cases along expeditiously in order to keep their dockets manageable. 

Are you or someone you know facing criminal charges?  Contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Banks & Brower anytime at (317) 870-0019 or email us at