Philadelphia, PA asked in Criminal Law for Pennsylvania

Q: My son has been in jail for 7 months, and hasn't even seen a judge yet

He's been sitting for 7 months in prison. Every time it's time for court, something comes up.

Is that legal?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brian Fishman
Brian Fishman
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: I'm sorry to hear about your son's situation. It is extremely unusual for someone to be in jail for 7 months and not see a judge at all. I'm assuming that he's in jail fighting an open matter & not waiting for a VOP hearing or serving a sentence. If that's the case, and he's facing a felony in Philadelphia or either a felony or misdemeanor anywhere else in the state, a preliminary hearing would've been scheduled within weeks of his arrest. A DA may be able to postpone the hearing once or twice, but no judge would allow a DA to not move forward with a preliminary hearing for 7 months. My guess is that your son's attorney may be the one postponing the hearings? But, even the defense would have an extremely difficult time explaining to the court why he/she isn't prepared for a preliminary hearing within 7 months of a client's arrest.

Is it possible that he had his preliminary hearing when first arrested and saw a judge then but now has been waiting over 7 months for his trial? If he's in Philadelphia and he's charged with a serious felony matter that's waiting to go to a jury trial then it is possible to wait over 7 months for a trial. The dockets are really back logged in Philadelphia and after a preliminary hearing there's a number of procedural steps (arraignment, pre-trial conference, scheduling conference, etc.) before a case even gets scheduled for trial. And, once it does, if its in a major felony jury trial room, it can take 7 months or even more for the case to be brought to trial. Oftentimes those courtrooms will schedule multiple jury trials every week and only one can go and the rest get continued to a later date if a plea can't be worked out and the DA is still pursuing the charges.

I hope this sheds some light on your son's situation. If I can be of further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Brian M. Fishman

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