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The myth of the “3 continuances” in criminal cases

Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 at 8:00 am    

by Andrew Baldwin

For well over a quarter century, I have been practicing criminal defense. Between all lawyers working for The Criminal Defense Team, we have over 150 years of combined criminal defense experience.

During our years of practice, our clients have consistently told us that they have heard that the law requires that they be allotted three continuances in any criminal case before they must decide whether to take a plea or go to trial. This is an old wives’ tale. I am not sure from what source this myth was generated, but it has never died.

The reality is that every judge across Indiana handles their case load differently. Some will allow multiple continuances well beyond three. Some will not allow any continuances. Certainly, more serious allegations usually require many continuances while the evidence is gathered and analyzed.

Judges generally want to move their docket along as efficiently as possible, while giving the lawyers enough time to get to know their cases and their clients.

At The Criminal Defense Team, many factors are considered when determining whether to seek a continuance. First and foremost, do we know the case? We cannot provide proper advice without first receiving the evidence and then analyzing it. Additionally, we may need to conduct our own investigation, especially if the police have not done their job. Secondly, as a practical consideration, we may look at the landscape involving the court or prosecutor. For example, if the prosecutor’s office has had multiple trials in a row, it may be strategically advantageous to push a case to trial rather than seek a continuance as the prosecutor may be more amenable to a better deal.

Perhaps most importantly, we must factor in the client’s wishes as it relates to their case. If the client is tired of the case hanging over their head, they may ask us to not seek any further continuances, for example. With many clients, however, it is the opposite as the client will ask us to seek a continuance because the decisions they have to make are difficult and they need additional time.

At The Criminal Defense Team, we will provide aggressive representation for our client. Our willingness to go to trial, if we are not given the outcome we feel is justified, is what has set us apart since our firm was formed.  We will do our best to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the client, but in the end the most important thing is that the client receive the best outcome they can based upon the facts and law. Whether we should seek a continuance for our client will be part of the overall strategy we provide for our clients to achieve that optimum result.

If you are looking for a defense lawyer to fight for you, please contact our team at (317) 687-8326 for a free consultation. While the “three continuance” conjecture is a myth, our reputation for providing the best criminal defense for our clients is not.

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