Penal Code 1382 | Speedy Trial Rules

Penal Code 1382 – California’s Speedy Trial Law

California’s speedy trial law is found in Penal Code Section 1382. This law says that if you’re charged with a crime in California, the government has to bring you to trial within a certain amount of time. If they don’t, you can ask the court to dismiss the case!

The right to a speedy trial comes from the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Every state also has speedy trial laws. California’s law is one of the strictest – it sets specific deadlines that prosecutors have to meet.

When the Clock Starts Ticking

In California, the speedy trial clock starts ticking when you are arraigned. That’s when you go to court and the charges against you are read, and you enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Once you are arraigned, prosecutors have a certain amount of time to bring you to trial. How much time they get depends on what you are charged with.

Deadlines for Different Charges

  • Felonies – 60 days
  • Misdemeanors – 30 days
  • Infractions – 15 days

So if you are charged with a felony, the government has 60 days from your arraignment to start your trial. For misdemeanors, they get 30 days. And for infractions like traffic tickets, they only get 15 days!

What Counts as a Speedy Trial?

The clock stops ticking once your trial starts – not when it ends. So even if your trial takes months or years to finish, it is considered “speedy” as long as it began within the deadline.

This protects your right to have a full and fair trial once it starts. The point of the speedy trial law is just to get the ball rolling!

Delays and Extensions

Sometimes there are good reasons why a case takes longer than usual to get to trial. If this happens, the prosecutor can ask the judge for an extension.

The law allows extensions if there is “good cause.” For example, if a key witness is unavailable, the crime lab is backed up, or the prosecutor needs more time to prepare such a serious case.

The judge decides whether or not to grant an extension. They will consider how long the delay is, the reason for it, and whether it hurts your right to a fair trial.

Delays Caused by the Defense

Delays caused by the defense also stop the clock. For example, if your lawyer needs more time to prepare or files pretrial motions, that doesn’t count against the prosecution’s deadline.

Waiving Time

You can also agree to waive (give up) your right to a speedy trial. This stops the clock and allows the case to move more slowly. Your lawyer may recommend this if they need more time to build your defense.

What Happens if the Deadline is Missed?

If the prosecution misses the deadline, your lawyer can file a motion to dismiss under Penal Code 1382. The judge must dismiss the case unless there was good cause for the delay.

Getting a case dismissed for a speedy trial violation is a great result. But it doesn’t always mean the case is over forever. Prosecutors can refile charges, starting a new speedy trial clock.

If you think your right to a speedy trial has been violated, talk to a criminal defense lawyer right away. An attorney can advise you on the best legal strategies.

The Right to a Public Trial

The Sixth Amendment also guarantees your right to a public trial. This means courtroom proceedings must be open to the public.

There are limited exceptions – like keeping the courtroom closed during a child victim’s testimony. But in general, the public and the press have a right to attend criminal trials.

This is an important check on the justice system. Public access increases transparency and accountability. It also allows the public to learn about the court process.

Weighing the Factors

What counts as a “speedy” trial under the U.S. Constitution? There’s no specific time limit. Instead, courts use a balancing test to weigh four factors:

  • Length of the delay
  • Reason for the delay
  • Defendant’s assertion of their speedy trial right
  • Prejudice to the defendant

Longer delays are more likely to violate the right. Deliberate delays by prosecutors weigh heavily against the government. Defendants who promptly assert their speedy trial right also have a stronger claim.

The most important factor is prejudice – whether the delay hurt the defendant’s ability to defend themselves. For example, if a key defense witness dies or disappears during the delay.

The Federal Speedy Trial Act

In federal court, speedy trial claims also depend on the Speedy Trial Act of 1974. This law sets deadlines for completing various stages of federal criminal cases.

For example, an indictment must be filed within 30 days of arrest. Trial must start within 70 days after the indictment. There are exceptions and exclusions similar to state laws.

Consult an Attorney

Speedy trial laws are complicated, with many exceptions and legal nuances. Don’t rely on this article alone to understand your rights!

If you believe your right to a speedy trial has been violated, talk to a criminal defense lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney can assess your case and advise you on the best defense strategies.


[1] California Penal Code 1382

Lawpipe – California Penal Code 1382

Greg Hill & Associates – Speedy Trial Deadlines

Nolo – The Right to a Speedy Trial

Townsend v. Superior Court

California Penal Code 1382 – FindLaw