• Raleigh Criminal Law | What is a Continuance?
  • August 10, 2012
  • Law Firm: Matheson Law Office PLLC - Raleigh Office
  • When facing a North Carolina Traffic Charge, North Carolina Criminal Charge or North Carolina DWI Charge, you are more then likely going to have to spend at least one day in the courtroom. The only exception to this, are those minor traffic citations which are 'waivable' meaning that the Defendant can waive their right to appear in court and hire an attorney to appear on their behalf. For those that do come, understanding the various procedures and policies within the courtroom can be confusing. For that reason, and many others, most people decide to hire an attorney to represent them in court. Aside from their knowledge about the law and potential defenses, they know what needs to be done in court. As a Raleigh DWI Attorney, Raleigh Traffic Attorney and Raleigh Criminal Attorney, I am in court almost every day. Though there are many difference areas of the courtroom procedures I could write about (and have written about) today I will discuss the continuance.

    The continuance is a means in which either the Defendant, the State or both ask the Judge to continue the court date to another date further out in the future (normally around 30 days). The continuance is used as means to allow the two opposing parties (the Defendant and the State) to come together and decide if they are ready to handle the case that day, and if one or both sides are not ready, the case can be continued.

    Unfortunately, in North Carolina, the State gets to decide when the case will be set (i.e. what date it will be put on). That being said, most Judge's are reasonable when it comes to request to not set it on a specific date due to conflicts.

    Both sides are given several continuances for their case. Some cases get continued out longer then others, as example, a DWI case in which blood was drawn is normally pushed out a long way due to the fact that it takes a while for the State to get the blood results back.

    If one side uses too many continuances, a Judge will normally mark the file as 'Last.' 'Last' indicates that the Judge has granted the continuance, however at the new court date, the side that was marked as 'Last' is suppose to be prepared to handle the case on that date (i.e. that was the last continuance).

    From a Criminal Defense stand point, it is always better to force the State to use their continuances whenever possible. This most often occurs when the State doesn't have their evidence and/or witnesses ready for trial. In those cases, the State should request the continuance. The idea being that, at some point, the Judge will mark the file as 'Last' for the State and if they are not ready to proceed on the next date, the Judge should deny the State's motion to continue (though that's not always how it happens).

    If you have received a criminal and/or traffic citation contact a local North Carolina Criminal/Traffic/DWI Attorney as soon as possible so they can go over your case with you.

    Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.