How Soon Should a Person Be Brought to Trial In California ?

The statutory time period in which a felony matter must be brought to trial is set forth in Penal Code section 1382. The statutory scheme provides that in the absence of a showing of good cause for delay, an information must be dismissed if the accused is not brought to trial within 60 days of the date on which he or she was arraigned on an indictment or information (Pen. Code, 1382, subd. (a)(2)). An exception to this rule applies when a defendant requests or consents to the setting of a trial date beyond the 60-day period. In that situation, Penal Code section 1382, subdivision (a)(2)(B) provides, in relevant part, that "whenever a case is set for trial beyond the 60-day period by request or consent, expressed or implied, of the defendant without a general waiver, the defendant shall be brought to trial on the date set for trial or within 10 days thereafter." The 10-day period does not begin to run until the defendant announces ready for trial on the date to which the trial was continued, or on a later date to which the defendant impliedly or expressly consented if the case was again continued. (Bryant v. Superior Court (1986) 186 Cal. App. 3d 483, 488-499 230 Cal. Rptr. 777.) The 10-day period is "automatic" by operation of Penal Code section 1382, subdivision (a)(2)(B), and cannot be unilaterally waived by a defendant. ( People v. Griffin, supra, 235 Cal. App. 3d at p. 1747.) This is because the 10-day period not only protects the defendant by setting a time limit within which he must be brought to trial, but because it also protects the People by giving them 10 days if necessary. When a defendant is represented by counsel, counsel can waive time without a personal time waiver being taken from the defendant. (People v. Noriega (1997) 59 Cal. App. 4th 311, 320, fn. 4 69 Cal. Rptr. 2d 127.) If counsel is appointed, however, counsel can waive time for the defendant only if the time waiver is sought by counsel in the best interests of the defendant and not merely to resolve a calendar conflict on the part of counsel. (Ibid.) If the defendant is unrepresented, Penal Code section 1382, subdivision (c) states that "the defendant shall not be deemed . . . to have consented to the date for defendant's trial unless the court has explained to the defendant his or her rights under this section and the effect of his or her consent."