A trial can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few weeks. Recently, a multiple defendant murder trial in San Diego took more than a year to complete. There are a number of factors that will affect the length of a trial. As a defendant, you have the right to a jury trial but you can elect to have a judge rather than a jury hear your case. A jury will add time to the trial simply by adding the logistics of moving extra people in and out of the courtroom, explanations to the jurors that a judge wouldn’t need, and off-the-record conversations that have to be heard out of the presence of the jury.
The largest factor in determining the length of a trial is the amount of evidence that attorneys present. Evidence includes testimony from witnesses and physical items such as clothing or weapons. The amount of evidence for each case can vary depending on the number of charges against the defendant, the types of crimes (petty theft vs. murder), and the subject matter (stealing a skateboard vs. an assault resulting in intensive care hospitalization). Both the prosecution and defense are given the opportunity to question each witness.
If you and your attorney decide that a trial is the best course for you, then, as trial gets closer, your attorney will be able to give you an idea how long the trial will last.
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