Stay of Proceedings is a legal term used to refer to a direction by a Crown prosecutor or a Judge to the Clerk of the Court to terminate a criminal prosecution. Technically, in most jurisdictions, the Crown is thereafter at liberty to seek the consent of the Attorney General to renew the prosecution within 1 year of the entry of the stay of proceedings. Patrick Fagan has secured stays of proceedings on hundreds of occasions; not once have the stayed proceedings ever been renewed. Practically speaking, from a Defence perspective, a stay of proceedings is as welcome as a verdict of not guilty.
Proceedings can be stayed for a variety of reasons including acknowledgement by the prosecution that there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction due to evidentiary and/or constitutional concerns – or – by a Judge as a remedy for the violation of an accused’s constitutional rights. Stays of proceedings are not routinely granted and generally require considerable effort on the part of defence counsel to convince the prosecutor or judge to terminate the prosecution in such a manner.