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The Motion to Continue – The Benefits of Postponing a Criminal Trial

Continuing a trial means asking the judge to postpone the trial date. The most common reason your criminal attorney will request a Motion to Continue is to have additional time to prepare for trial. Your lawyer may need more time to gather evidence, hire an additional expert or speak to other witnesses.

If your attorney feels that it is best to continue the trial to a later date, it is generally to your advantage to follow your attorney’s advice.  This is especially true if you are facing a felony charge and possible jail time. There is usually a good reason behind the attorney’s desire to continue the case, and if you go to trial and are convicted, then that’s it – your only avenue of address is an appeal, which is always difficult and rarely successful.

Continuing a Case Is Common

A case can be continued more than once. Usually a judge will allow the defense attorney and the prosecution attorney to have one continuance each. An additional continuance may be needed if  someone is sick or the trial docket is too full or there is some other reason the trial can not go forward. In Mississippi and Louisiana courts, it is not uncommon for a trial to be continued 3 or 4 times.

No Need to Rush to Trial Unless You Are in Jail

Whatever the reason for postponing trial, continuing a case is usually to a defendant’s advantage. The passage of time can cool feelings and the victim may not be as angry. New facts may come to light or witnesses may no longer be available. There is generally no downside to a continuance, assuming the defendant is out of jail.

If the defendant is in jail, then the criminal attorney may want to file a Motion for a Speedy Trial – the trial will take place within 90 days after the Motion is filed. But if you are not in jail, you should always agree to a continuance. There is no reason to rush into trial, and you need to make sure that you and your criminal defense lawyer have plenty of time to prepare. Once a verdict comes, you are stuck with it, so make sure you are completely ready to face a jury to get the best possible outcome.