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Criminal Law Blog

How Long Can a Criminal Trial Last?

February 24, 2023

If you have been charged with a crime in Arizona and your case was set for trial, it can be extremely difficult to sit and wait for your trial date. You may have a lot of questions, including how long your criminal trial will last. If you haven’t hired a criminal defense attorney by the time of your initial appearance in court, the court will appoint you one. You will work closely with this attorney as your trial date approaches, and your attorney will explain each step of the process to you, so you know what to expect. Here’s a quick look at how long a criminal trial lasts.

Opening Arguments

A criminal trial can last a matter of hours, days, or even weeks. It all depends upon the complexity of the case, the amount of evidence, the number of witnesses, the motions that are filed by both parties, and the length of time the jury needs to deliberate. The first stage of the trial is the opening arguments. During this stage, your attorney and the prosecuting attorney will lay out their cases, briefly go over their evidence, and explain to the jury why they believe you are guilty or not guilty of your charges.

Evidence and Witness Testimony

The next phase in the trial is evidence and testimony. Each side will discuss the evidence against you and will either present witness testimony or try to disprove the witness testimony presented by the other side. This phase can take a matter of hours or days. Some witnesses may testify in person, while others may testify via phone or have their testimony introduced via previously taken depositions.

Closing Arguments

Once all evidence and witness testimonies are complete, your attorney and the prosecuting attorney will make their closing arguments to the jury. The closing arguments will sum up the case, discuss the evidence, and make further arguments for your guilt or innocence. The jury will then be given specific instructions to follow during their deliberations, and the judge will call a recess until deliberations are complete. 

Deliberation and Verdict

The jury’s deliberations can take anywhere from minutes to hours or even more than a day. In rare cases, the jury may state that they are unable to reach consensus, and the judge will need to intervene. Once deliberations are complete and the jury has reached a verdict, the judge will call court back into session and the verdict will be read.

If you’ve been charged with a crime and need an experienced criminal defense attorney in Arizona, Janet Altschuler can help. To set up a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 520-247-1789 or 520-200-5003.

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