4 Reasons It Takes So Long To Get From An Arrest To A Trial

Have you ever wondered why it can take so long for a defendant to actually get to trial following an arrest? Often, it's because of the number of steps that have to be completed before a trial can start, including requests for information and evidence, which is called "discovery."

If you've been charged with a crime, it's important to understand as much as possible about the criminal process so that you can fully participate in your own defense. Plus, knowing what is likely to happen can help ease your anxiety and fears over the whole situation. Here's what you can expect during the discovery process of your case.

1. There will likely be a lot of delays, motions, and hearings.

Delays are common during the discovery process. Ideally, the prosecution is supposed to turn over everything it has to the defense that might indicate your innocence. But prosecutors and defense attorneys may disagree on what evidence should be allowed into a trial and will often try to block evidence through pre-trial motions. In those pre-trial motions, they may ask a judge to disallow evidence for any number of reasons, like a faulty "chain of evidence" to the fact that a witness is just unreliable for some reason.

2. Witnesses may have to prepare interrogatories or give depositions.

If your case is complicated and involves a lot of evidence, there may be witnesses and forensic experts involved who will have to respond to written requests for information, called interrogatories. Others may be called into a meeting where they will be sworn in and asked questions directly on the record. As you can imagine, it can often take a lot of time to organize and complete this process alone.

3. Your defense needs time to review all the documents received from the prosecution.

It generally takes a while for the prosecution to provide all of the documentation in your case, especially if there are lab reports and depositions waiting to be completed. As the documentation rolls in, your criminal defense lawyer needs time to review everything and assemble a more complete picture of your case. That's the only way to fully assess the strengths and weaknesses of a case.

4. You may need time for expert witnesses to weigh in.

Some cases, especially serious ones, require the use of expert witnesses. That might include a special forensic expert or psychologist, for example, hired by the defense to give their opinion, especially if the facts of a case are largely in doubt. It may take quite a while for that expert to review all the documentation of the case that's relevant and write an opinion.

As difficult as this process is, recognize that the time your defense takes is actually benefiting you. There's nothing to be gained by rushing to trial--and a lot to lose.