Lawyers and clients commonly want continuances to prepare your cases, but they don't constantly get them.

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A keep going is a give of added preparation time prior to or during a trial. One of two people the prosecution or the defense can request a continuance, and sometimes also the court deserve to order a keep going of its very own accord.

Reasons for a Continuance

Lawyers typically seek continuances since they want much more time come prepare for trial. Typical reasons because that continuances include the following.

Insufficient Time come Prepare in General

Both the prosecution and the defense are entitled to a reasonable time to prepare because that trial. Precisely what constitutes a reasonable time is open up to interpretation, and also depends ~ above the circumstances and also complexity that a specific case. In general, each side must be given enough time to:

review the evidenceinvestigate the factsconsult with witnessesin the case of the defense, hold lawyer-client meetings.

Neither side might excessively hold-up the trial because that its own advantage, particularly the prosecution: one unreasonable hold-up can hurt the defendant"s sixth Amendment ideal to a speedy trial.

Attorneys regularly request continuances because their work on other situations has prevented them indigenous devoting the crucial time come the situation at hand. Court usually allow some leeway in this situations, particularly for court-appointed defense attorneys.

Time because that the defense. While both the prosecution and the defense room entitled to reasonable time to prepare, time shortages many often influence the latter. A absence of sufficient time that provides an lawyer ineffective in representing the customer violates the 6th Amendment appropriate to counsel. Top top the other hand, if defense counsel has had actually ample time come prepare and no surprising occasion justifies a give of additional time, a referee won"t hesitate to deny a keep going request. Courts will likewise deny continuance requests if the defendant or defense attorney led to the require for an ext time v negligence or delay (also recognized as "laches").

Changes come the Indictment or Information

The addition of brand-new facts or crime to the indictment or information (the document that fees the defendant with crimes) will commonly require extr time come prepare a defense. Because that example, the prosecution transforming the alleged day of a crime could justify a continue to permit the defendant come prepare an alibi for the date in question.

However, a continuance as result of a adjust in a charging file is warranted just if the readjust (known together "variance") compromises the defendant"s case. If the prosecution makes changes merely come correct techdearteassociazione.orggical defects and those defects don"t alter the instance in any type of meaningful way, then a judge probably won"t give a continuance.

Replacing Counsel

The sixth Amendment assures criminal defendants the appropriate to counsel, but that right has actually limitations. Defendants deserve to counsel of their choosing—within reason. When a defendant desires to adjust their defense attorney for another, the court must think about several factors prior to granting a continue to allow the new lawyer come prepare. A judge may not arbitrarily insist that the situation move forward once it"s clear the a continue is needed for a new lawyer.

A judge probably won"t give a continuance if:

the defendant has actually unreasonably delayed in acquiring a brand-new attorneythe defendant has an additional attorney that is prepared for trialthe continuance wouldn"t aid the new attorney adequately represent the defendant, orthe defendant falls short to define why a new lawyer is necessary.

Surprise Witnesses or Evidence

New events or info previously unknown come the defense—for example, a new witness revealed the day before trial or new physical evidence supporting the prosecution"s case—will most likely warrant a continuance. Similarly, in some cases the absence of a witness that the defendant supposed to be present may necessitate extr time so the defendant can shot to obtain the witness to court.

A judge might deny a continue when:

the brand-new evidence is reasonably related to proof the defendant already knows aboutthe defendant has sufficient time there is no the continuance come prepare for the brand-new evidencethe defendant wasn"t diligent in anticipating the evidence (for example, defense counsel fail to review forensic reports turned over by the prosecution and was "surprised" as soon as the prosecution"s forensic skilled testified to check results consisted of in the reports), orthe defendant fails to promptly educate the court of the surprise evidence or witness.

Surprise Testimony

It"s not uncommon for the prosecution"s witnesses to say something in ~ trial that they either never ever said before (for example, once interviewed by the police) or the contradicts statements they"ve do in the past. When this happens, continuances are suitable if the defense can display that the defendant:

didn"t anticipate and can"t be meant to have actually anticipated the testimonywants to current testimony or evidence to counter the surprised testimony, andcan present that inconsistent evidence in a reasonable period of time.

As always, if the defendant"s negligence added to the surprise, the judge can reject the continuance request. Additionally, a court usually won"t approve a continuance wherein the surprise testimony originates from one the the defendant"s very own witnesses.

How Courts see Continuance Requests

Because continuances delay the resolution the a case, judges generally frown ~ above them. It"s generally only once the defendant"s rights could otherwise be violated that a court will approve a continue request. Absent a law or constitutional ideal to the contrary, judges have vast discretion to determine whether to issue a continuance.


Perhaps the most important consideration for a referee is even if it is the party requesting the continuance has actually been diligent—in other words, whether the party put in enough effort. Parties must be energetic in reviewing evidence, interviewing witnesses, issuing subpoenas, and testing forensic evidence. Additionally, defendants must be conscientious in obtaining counsel and in alerting the court to any kind of problems with existing counsel.

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Exercising diligence method that the party has done everything reasonable, not whatever possible. Choose most worries relating to continuances, the an interpretation of diligence counts upon the facts and also circumstances of the details case.