Criminal Defense

What is “Good Cause” in Criminal Justice?

May 19, 2023 by Madison Ferguson in Criminal Defense  
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What is “Good Cause” in Criminal Law?

When someone asks a court for something or tries to avoid doing something, the court may ask them to prove that they have a good reason or cause for their request or behavior. A good cause is a decent explanation a judge accepts as valid to decide or take any action per the law. Sometimes, when a court dismisses a case because the parties didn’t do anything to move it forward, the court might ask the party who didn’t do anything to explain why they didn’t do anything. This is called showing a good cause – a good reason – for not doing what you were supposed to do.

Factors considered

When evaluating good cause, the court must take into account the following aspects, particularly in situations where an exceptional demonstration of good cause is necessary as per the specified regulations:

  1. If an extension is granted or denied, consideration should be given to the extent of harm caused to any party which may be affected by the decision while ensuring that it is done for a reasonable and justifiable cause. When making an allegation of harm, it is crucial to provide extensive evidence to support it, mainly when the effort is for a good cause. In a civil lawsuit, the stance of the client and the opposing party regarding a possible extension will be considered.
  2. The record’s extent, which encompasses the number of applicable trial exhibits, serves a worthy purpose. If a party wishes to invoke this factor, they must indicate the duration of the record in question. This is particularly important if the record is used for a good cause. A civil case commonly involves a record that includes one clerk’s transcript or appendix volume and twice that amount for the reporter’s transcript. This constitutes an average-length record, and the reason for its existence is typically tied to a good cause.
  3. The difficulty level and the number of concerns raised to support a good cause.
  4. It is critical to determine if there are any ongoing settlement discussions for a good cause. If there are, understanding their progress and potential completion date is crucial.
  5. If the lawyer handling the document preparation is a novice to the case, is it for a good cause?
  6. If there is a good cause, like if other attorneys or the client requires more time to review the document, an extension can be granted.
  7. Does the attorney drafting the document have any other time-sensitive obligations that may hinder prompt submission of the document, even if it’s for a good cause? Simply claiming that additional time is required due to urgent matters is not enough to justify a delay, especially when the issue is for a good cause. Demonstrating a good cause entails a particular display of other responsibilities of the counsel which pertain to a worthy and justifiable objective.
  8. Events such as an advocate’s sickness, unforeseen personal emergency, or a pre-planned trip cannot be avoided despite not expecting it to impede the deadline for a good cause.
  9. Any other element that holds a justifiable reason in the light of the case.

Good Cause in California that justifies postponing a court hearing

People can ask to change the court hearing or criminal trial date by requesting a good cause. If you have a good cause, you can ask the court to change your case date by filing a motion for a continuance. This is a lawful procedure that can help with your good cause. But in California, getting approval for a good reason is not automatic.

A judge chooses to give permission or not for a motion under PC 1050 which can be used for a good cause. Remember that judges will only approve these requests if the person requesting it provides a valid reason. Also, people must inform the other party before they file a PC 1050 motion. For a good cause, the judge may allow a postponement if:

  • They need additional time to prepare for a court case for a good reason.
  • The person accused of a crime got sick and couldn’t go through with what they had planned. This happened for a good reason.
  • The defense or prosecution faced a problem preventing them from proceeding on time due to a good cause.
  • Someone who was supposed to go to court couldn’t make it for a good reason.

When deciding if changing the court date is a good idea, the judge looks at how it will affect everyone else.

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How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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