Written by attorney Troy Austin Pickard

Serna Motions: A good route to dealing with a very old case

Serna motions are useful when a criminal complaint was filed a long time ago, and the DA is only now bringing you to trial. The idea is that you have quite possibly been prejudiced by the delay in prosecution. Technically, the Serna clock starts ticking at arrest or when the compliant is filed, whichever is first. The basic argument is as follows: if more than one year has elapsed since arrest, prejudice is presumed. At this point, the burden shifts to the government to justify the delay (which, in practice, they are hardly ever able to do). If the government does justify the delay, you then have to look at the Barker-Wingo factors.

If you have an old case like this, contact a criminal defense attorney and ask him about a Serna motion. It may be a good strategy.

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