Stay in a Case – What Does it Mean?

What does a stay mean in a criminal case? A stay, in simple legal language, is a temporary halt of time granted by a judge to a plaintiff arguing that the underlying case should be dismissed due to the fact that insufficient evidence has been presented to justify a claim. A stay can be granted on almost any issue pending before the court, including an application for child support or a petition for divorce or an application to modify a restraining order.


In the context of a stay, the words “stay” and “motion” are commonly used. In some cases, these words are not used but are used in agreement with the circumstances. For instance, the words “stay away from me” are used when someone is trying to keep you away from me by making it difficult for you to leave your home or preventing you from going to work. Likewise, the words “stay out of my business” are used when someone is preventing you from doing something in order to protect yourself from an action against you.

The basic idea behind stays is that it permits one party to refrain from particular conduct while the other one obtains what is called a “temporary restraint.” A restraint, in turn, prevents the conduct from continuing after the period expires. In most criminal cases, it is extremely unlikely that any criminal defense attorney would suggest that a stay would be appropriate. While it might be theoretically possible for a stay to be justified in certain instances, it is nearly always regarded as a temporary restraint. That is to say, it almost always signifies that the opposing party must wait until it is over before it can proceed with its action. That is certainly not the way attorneys feel about stays in any criminal case.