What is the statute of limitations? How does that affect speedy trial rights?

Time to file and speedy trial times are like apples and oranges.

The time to file is the statute of limitations.  In general, on a misdemeanor, the prosecution has up to a year to file charges from the date of the incident.  Most felonies have a three year statute of limitations.  There are some exceptions for sex offenses, minor victims, fraud, life cases and murder that make the statute of limitations longer or delay when they start running.

Once charges are filed and the accused is arraigned by entering their not guilty plea, then the speedy trial rights begin.  On a misdemeanor if the defendant is in custody at the time of arraignment, trial must commence within 30 days.  If the defendant is out of custody at the time of arraignment, trial must start within 45 days.

On a felony, your first right is a right a speedy preliminary hearing.  You have a right to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days of your arraignment.  If you waive that right, you still have a right to a preliminary hearing within 60 calendar days of arraignment.  From there, if you’re held for trial after the preliminary hearing, you go back to court within 15 calendar days to be re-arraigned on a new charging document called an “information.”  Once you enter another not guilty plea on the information charges, you have a right to a trial within 60 calendar days.

So – on a felony if you never waived time you would to to trial within approximately 3 months (2 weeks for preliminary hearing, 2 weeks for the new arraignment on the information and 2 months for trial).

For more about the timelines of a felony prosecution, see:

What are the Stages of a Felony Prosecution?


What are the Stages of a Trial?

Joe Dane


(714) 532-3600