Innocent and Facing Charges That Would Have Ruined My Life
Grand Larceny in the 1st Degree
Every jurisdiction has procedural quirks, and in Rochester we have one known as a Bench Trial Reserving Rights, or a "BTRR."
A BTRR is commonly used in harassment cases, because complaining witnesses rarely show up to the trial. It works like this:
The judge sets a date for a non-jury trial (also known as a bench trial, because the judge decides guilt or innocence from her bench.) On the day of trial, if the complainant shows up to testify, the judge sets out a schedule for the exchange of discovery, motions, and a new trial date. There is no trial on that originally scheduled date. Things then proceed as a normal case would, with plea negotiations or possibly a trial.
The thing is, complainants only appear at that first trial date about 10% of the time. So what happens if the complainant is a no-show?
If the complainant does not show up, the judge sets a control date, typically 90 days from the date of the originally-scheduled bench
trial. Why? Because the District Attorney's only have 90 days to prosecute most misdemeanor cases. The DA must announce readiness for
trial before their 90-day speedy trial time runs out. If their complaining witness does not appear on the originally scheduled trial
date, they are not ready for trial. Therefore, on the control date, speedy trial time will have elapsed, and the case must be dismissed.
Unless the Court contacts the defense, the Defendant typically doesn't have to appear on the control date. The case is typically just dismissed automatically.
This is just one example of why it is a good idea to retain a local lawyer who is familiar with local practice.