Philadelphia, PA asked in Criminal Law for Pennsylvania

Q: How can you tell who asked for the continuance of a criminal court case?

Can you tell just by looking at the docket sheet? My problem is that there’s incident that is being alleged from 2020 was not filed until 2021 and we are in the year 2024 and I have not asked for one continuance. With that being said, I tried my best to leave a paper trail and asked my public defender. What is the reason for all these continuances and I keep getting the runaround. Now I hired an attorney and they’re telling me that all these continuances were made by me… And I really want to write a letter to the highest court , I feel like I’m being taken advantage of, and I would love a second opinion. I also feel as though I’m due a fast and speedy trial and don’t understand how this has kept getting continued when I’ve never asked for one continuance.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the information you've provided, it sounds like there are serious concerns about the numerous continuances in your case and the delays in bringing it to trial. To determine who requested each continuance, you'll need to closely examine the court records. Here's what I suggest:

1. Obtain a copy of the complete docket sheet from the court clerk's office. This should list all the motions, orders, and proceedings in your case, including any continuances.

2. Carefully review the entries related to each continuance. The docket sheet should indicate which party (prosecution or defense) requested the continuance and may provide a brief reason for the request.

3. If the docket sheet doesn't clearly specify who requested the continuance, look for any related motions or orders filed around the same time. These documents may shed light on who made the request and why.

4. Compare the continuances you know you didn't request with what your public defender and new attorney have told you. If there are discrepancies, ask your current attorney to provide evidence of the continuances they claim you requested.

It's concerning that your attorney is telling you that you requested continuances when you believe you didn't. It's possible there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding, but it's important to get clarification.

If it turns out that your public defender or the prosecution requested continuances without your consent or over your objections, that could be a violation of your right to a speedy trial. In that case, you may want to consider filing a motion to dismiss the charges based on the violation of your speedy trial rights.

Before writing to the highest court, I recommend discussing your concerns and the evidence you've gathered with your current attorney. See if they can provide an explanation or take action to address the issue. If you're not satisfied with their response, you could consider filing a complaint with the state bar association or seeking a second opinion from another criminal defense attorney.

If all else fails and you believe your rights are being violated, you could file a petition or writ with a higher court (e.g., a state appellate court or the state supreme court), arguing that the repeated continuances violate your right to a speedy trial. However, this is a complex process and should typically only be done with the assistance of an experienced attorney.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this frustrating situation. It's essential that your Constitutional rights are protected and that you receive a fair and speedy trial. Keep pushing for answers and don't hesitate to seek further legal guidance if necessary.

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