Welcome to our new weekly series, Friday Q&A. Each week our attorneys
will respond to a question selected from the many received by direct and
online submission. Have a question you want answered or topic you want
to hear more about? Submit your suggestions to us by tweeting
@TLOBJ or sending a message to our
My first court date for my shoplifting charge is coming up. When I checked
the court docket online today, there was a new post that said “state
motion for continuance.” What does that mean?
ANSWER: A motion for continuance is a request by a party to a case to reschedule
a currently set court date. In the criminal context, a court date is an
order to appear at a particular date and time (and place!) that is enforceable
with the power of law.
That means if you do not come to court for a scheduled court date, a warrant
could be issued for your arrest in order to force you to come to court.
The Defendant or the State can request a continuance for a variety of reasons,
including: the unavailability of an important witness like the arresting
officer or an examining nurse; because of a scheduling conflict for the
attorney or the client who is asking for the change; or because the parties
are still exchanging discovery or working to resolve the case without
the use of a jury trial.
Typically, the party requesting the continuance is responsible for showing
a good reason for the request and for providing alternative dates for
the court to reschedule the date to.
The timing of a motion to continue is dependent on the circumstances of
the case; typically, the motion is made as soon as the requesting attorney
becomes aware of the need for it, whether that is fourteen (14) days before
the court date, or the morning of the court date.