This question has to do with a defendant's Constitutional right to a speedy trial
. A case cannot pend indefinitely with nothing happening to it. Unfortunately, the state of Texas does not specifically provide an actual time frame for the voting of an indictment after which a criminal
matter must be dismissed on Speedy Trial grounds. It holds that trial
must take place "within a reasonable time" and it uses the balancing test that the US Supreme Court
set down in Barker v. Wingo
to determine when the delay is unreasonable. This test analyzes: 1) the length of the delay, 2) the reasons for the delay, 3) the defendant's assertion of his rights to a speedy trial and 4) the prejudice to the defendant resulting from the delay.
You can get an analysis of how this works in the state of Texas by looking over a couple of Speedy Trial rulings. Here's one.
The facts are not like yours, but you can get to see the process courts use to determine whether a case should just be tossed because the state appears to be unable to go forward.
Sometimes, a case isn't indicted deliberately, because a defense lawyer has asked for the indictment to be held off so that he could work out a favorable pre-indictment plea. Before bothering to present a case to a grand jury, the DA is usually a little more generous than afterwards. But when your friend's lawyer thinks enough is enough and has become unreasonable, the lawyer can file a motion for a speedy trial dismissal. Still, as you can see, it's not the delay alone that matters. It's the reason for the delay as well as whether a defendant is prejudiced by that delay. This area of the law is fairly complicated as each case is different in terms of its own facts.