This doesn't sound reasonable. It's the defendant who has the speedy trial right. Nevertheless, your attorney might have a talk with the DA about this situation, informally. If they keep playing games, your attorney might file something with the court that ensures the court and the DA knows that you are out of town and this is causing a financial hardship. Maybe your lawyer can get a court order to appear on your behalf without you at non-essential court hearings. Not sure that's permitted in NC but it's possible.
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Anthony is absolutely correct, if the DA can control the calendar, then they should have the same influence on whether or not you are required to appear from out of state for hearings like the ones you described above. Not unreasonable request at all in this circumstance.
I'm in agreement with the other answers posted. Unilaterally continuing a case repeatedly for years seems unfair. Here in Florida, a defendant can demand a speedy trial, and must be brought to trial within 60 days of the date of that demand (there are some additional qualifiers to this rule.) You might consider contacting another local attorney in NC to see if there is any similar rule there, and, if so, if he or she would be willing to pursue that course of action on your behalf. Good luck.
Ask your lawyer if he can waive your appearance in court. He should be able to ask the judge depending on NC law. I am not licensed in NC.
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You should do what your lawyer tells you to do. We are at a loss because we do not know if anything can be done. It is a NC case. Each criminal defendant must feel about the same way, even if in NC.
R. Jason de Groot, Esq., 386-337-8239