Why Do Prosecutors Drag Out Cases? Truth Revealed


If you are facing a crime in Colorado and the government keeps pushing back the trial, you may wonder, “Why do prosecutors drag out cases?” Prosecutors may choose to engage in delay tactics for a number of reasons, which can be proper or improper. For example, they may extend the trial date while they try to locate witnesses or conduct investigations. Or, they may try to push back the trial—intentionally or inadvertently—to get the defendant to accept a plea deal. 

If you think the prosecution in your case is unlawfully delaying your case, consider giving Martin & Reed a call. Our Colorado criminal defense lawyers have tried hundreds of cases throughout their decades practicing law. They understand what a reasonable timeline might look like between the indictment and the trial, and they can help you figure out if the government is acting inappropriately. 

What Tactics Do Prosecutors Use To Delay Cases?

Prosecutors may use various tools to push back the trial date for criminal cases. For example, they may request an extension of the trial date to have extra time to locate witnesses. As part of this, they may issue subpoenas—documents that order someone to show up in court at a specific date and time—to the missing witnesses. 

Another reason for a delay might be to locate evidence the government may need during the trial. For example, if they expect a child witness in a sexual assault of a child case to talk to a detective in a recorded interview, the government may ask to continue the date until the detective and the child can have this conversation. 

What Are the Motivations Behind Prolonged Litigation?

Delaying the trial can serve many purposes. If the delay is based on proper reasons, it may allow the defense and the government to adequately prepare for the trial. 

For example, both sides can have ample time to gather and review evidence in the case. This gives them the opportunity to flesh out the arguments they might use in favor of their side or to rebut arguments made by the other side. Additionally, it can give them time to prepare and file motions—such as motions to exclude evidence or testimony—which can help shape the case’s progress. 

When delays are based on improper reasons, they may be a way to wear down the opposition and persuade them to agree to things that aren’t in their best interest. For example, the government may push back the trial date excessively as a way to persuade the defendant to agree to a plea deal. 

How Can Defendants Counter Delaying Tactics?

Defendants can counter delay tactics by continuing to assert their right to a fair and speedy trial throughout the case. They can accomplish this by filing written motions and objecting to the prosecution’s efforts to change the trial date. 

They can also be firm in requiring the prosecution to give good-faith evidence to support the request to push back the trial. For example, if the government claims to need the continuance so they can get a key witness, make sure to ask for proof and verify whether this is accurate. Another way to counter delay tactics is to have a criminal defense attorney who isn’t afraid to call out prosecutors who are trying to wear you down and take advantage of your situation. 

How Can Prosecutorial Misconduct Violate Someone’s Speedy Trial Rights?

Under Colorado law, the government must hold a criminal trial in someone’s case within a specific amount of time. Typically, this timeframe is six months from when the accused pleads not guilty to the charges against them. The law refers to this as the accused’s speedy trial rights. 

That said, the six-month clock ends if the defendant (e.g., the accused) doesn’t object to the government’s requests to push the trial back past this six-month mark. The new, allowed timeframe for the trial is based on, among other things, the time between the original trial date and the new date. 

When prosecutors engage in misconduct—such as sham attempts to locate witnesses they know aren’t available—this violates the accused’s rights under state and federal law. While awaiting trial, the accused may be in jail and unable to see or communicate with their family. Or they may lose their job because they called off work too many times. In any event, the cost to the accused is great when the government oversteps and tramples on their rights. 

Do Docket Delays Impact the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is a time limit for when someone can bring charges against another person or entity. Each type of offense carries its own statute of limitations. 

Some have rigid deadlines that the government needs to follow. In those cases, the government can’t charge someone with one of those crimes—such as forgery—unless they do so within a certain amount of time after the accused allegedly committed the offense. For other crimes—such as serious violent offenses—the government doesn’t have a strict deadline they need to meet in terms of charging the accused and bringing the case to trial. 

Martin & Reed: Skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys Ready to Fight for You

Prosecutors drag out cases for many different reasons, some of them proper and others which are not. If you are accused of a crime in Colorado, you have a right to have a fair and timely trial. When the government engages in improper delay tactics, it puts you at a disadvantage and worsens the stress and anxiety of having your life in limbo while you wait for an outcome. 

At Martin & Reed, LLC, we are fierce advocates for those accused of crimes in Colorado. Our team includes Bradley Martin, who served as a public defender for many years before transitioning to private practice. His tireless efforts led to many of his clients being found not guilty after being charged with offenses that included serious felonies. Contact us today by calling (970) 539-9377 to schedule a no-obligation consultation with a member of our team. We look forward to meeting with you to discuss what we can do for you.