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Penal Code 1050 PC | Motion for Continuance

Penal Code 1050 PC | Motion for Continuance

Getting charged with a crime can be an incredibly stressful and confusing time. You may feel overwhelmed navigating the complex legal system and unsure of your rights. One important tool that can help is something called a “motion for continuance” under Penal Code 1050 PC.

A motion for continuance allows you to request that the court postpone or delay certain deadlines or hearings in your case. This gives you more time to prepare your defense strategy with your attorney. Having enough time is crucial to building the strongest case possible.

What is a Motion for Continuance?

A motion for continuance is a request made by either the prosecution or the defense to reschedule or postpone a criminal hearing or trial. It allows either side some breathing room when they need more time before proceeding.

For example, your attorney may file a motion for continuance if:

  • They need more time to prepare for trial or a pretrial hearing
  • They are waiting on evidence or documents from the prosecution through the discovery process
  • A witness suddenly becomes unavailable and they need to reschedule their testimony
  • You or your attorney has a scheduling conflict on the date of the hearing or trial

The most common reasons have to do with needing more time to build a defense and gather evidence. But there are many situations where a short delay could help your case.

Penal Code 1050 PC

In California, motions for continuance are governed by Penal Code Section 1050 PC. This law sets out the rules and procedures for requesting a delay in criminal proceedings.

It states that all continuances can only be granted upon a showing of “good cause.” The party requesting the continuance has the burden of proving there is a compelling reason for the delay.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
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Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
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Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
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Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
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I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Some examples of good cause under PC 1050 include:

  • Illness or unavailability of counsel or a party
  • A necessary witness is unable to attend
  • A plea negotiation is underway and more time is needed
  • New evidence has come to light

The court has a lot of discretion in weighing whether good cause exists. But in general, delays are frowned upon unless absolutely necessary. So your attorney will need to make a compelling argument when filing the motion.

How to Request a Continuance

To request a continuance, your defense attorney will need to file a formal motion with the court. There are specific procedures and deadlines that must be followed. Here are some tips on how it works:

  • The motion must be made in writing and filed with the court clerk. It cannot be made verbally.
  • It should be filed at least 2 court days before the hearing or trial date, unless there are emergency circumstances.
  • The motion must state the original date and the amount of time requested for the continuance.
  • It should clearly explain the reasons for requesting the delay and provide supporting facts.
  • Any evidence or declarations supporting the reasons for delay should be attached.
  • A proposed order for the judge to sign should be included.
  • The district attorney must be properly served with a copy of the motion.

Additionally, your attorney may need to appear in court to argue the motion before the judge. Each county may have specific local rules, so your attorney will need to follow the procedures for your specific courthouse.

How the Judge Decides

The judge has a lot of discretion when ruling on a motion for continuance. They will consider factors like:

  • Whether good cause for a delay has been proven
  • How long of a delay is being requested
  • Whether either side would be unfairly prejudiced
  • Whether previous continuances have been granted
  • The seriousness of the charges
  • Whether the defendant is in custody
  • How long the case has been pending already

The judge must balance the rights of the defendant to prepare a defense with the public interest in a speedy trial. They don’t have to grant the entire length of delay requested and may order a shorter continuance.

How Often Can a Continuance be Requested?

While there is no hard limit in the law, judges prefer that cases move along efficiently. Continuances should not be requested frivolously or repeatedly just to delay things.

That said, an experienced criminal defense lawyer knows when a continuance is truly needed to benefit the client. Strategic use of continuances at key moments can bolster the defense. For example, requesting more time to locate a favorable witness or get an expert report analyzed.

As long as there is good cause, your attorney can request reasonable delays. It’s a tool that should be used judiciously but can make a big difference in the outcome when used effectively.

Can a Continuance be Denied?

Yes, the judge can deny a motion for continuance after considering the arguments made. Reasons for denial may include:

  • The reasons given do not establish good cause under the law
  • The length of delay requested is unreasonable
  • Previous continuances have already been granted
  • The request comes too close to the hearing date

If denied, your attorney will have to proceed with the case as originally scheduled. Having an experienced lawyer who can argue persuasively will give you the best chance of success. But there are no guarantees and you should be prepared in case the motion is denied.

Waiving Time Limits

One related concept is “waiving time” for preliminary hearings and trials. This means you agree to give up your right to have the hearing or trial within the normal legal deadline.

For example, normally a felony defendant has a right to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days of entering a not guilty plea. But you can “waive time” and agree to extend this deadline if more time is needed. Your attorney may file a written time waiver along with the continuance motion.

Strategic Use of Continuances

Skillfully using continuances and time waivers is an art in criminal defense. An experienced attorney knows how to strategically request delays and waivers to benefit their client.

For example, a continuance could allow time to:

  • Conduct an investigation to dig up witnesses and evidence
  • Obtain an independent forensic or expert analysis
  • Work with prosecutors towards a plea bargain or pretrial diversion
  • File suppression motions to exclude evidence
  • Locate missing witnesses and get their testimony

The key is having a lawyer who thoroughly understands your case and can identify the pivotal moments where an extra few weeks could change the trajectory.

Contact a Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, don’t go it alone. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference. They will know when and how to file a motion for continuance in your case.

Every case has unique needs. Take advantage of a free consultation with a defense attorney to discuss the best legal strategies for your situation. This includes making strategic decisions about requesting necessary delays through motions for continuance when it could benefit your defense. With an attorney guiding you, you can feel empowered to navigate the legal process.


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