In the case of an indictable offence where a plea of not guilty is entered the length of time between the first appearance of an accused person before the District Court and the date of trial in the Circuit Court or in the Central Criminal Court is governed by three main factors. The first is the length of time taken to prepare the book of evidence; the second is the length of time between serving the book of evidence on the accused and the making of an order by the District Judge returning the accused for trial and the third is the length of time between the date of that order and the date of the trial.
Regarding the first factor, the Criminal Procedure Act, 1967, provides that the book of evidence shall be served on the accused at the earliest opportunity but, save with the leave of the court, shall not be served later than 30 days after the first appearance of the accused before the court. It would not be possible to calculate the average length of time involved without the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of staff time which would not be warranted.
In general the length of time attributable to the second factor is one week except in a small number of cases where depositions are requested by either the prosecution or the defence.
As regards the third factor, the position in the Circuit Court is that, in all but six venues, criminal trials are heard at the next available sitting following a return for trial from the District Court. In five venues the length of time between the return for trial from the District Court to the date of trial in the Circuit Court ranges from four to six months and in one venue it is 15 to 18 months. In the Central Criminal Court the length of time between the return for trial and the commencement of the trial is on average 13 months.