Both Florida law and the United States Constitution guarantee the right to a speedy trial to criminal defendants. It may be grounds for dismissal if a court violates this right by failing to try a person for a crime in a timely way, but not all delays will be considered a violation of a person’s rights. A recent Florida decision, in which the court refused a defendant’s appeal based on an alleged breach of his right to a speedy trial, addressed the question of what delays are acceptable. If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer about your options.
Charges Against the Defendant
According to reports, the defendant was arrested by a police officer in November 2019 for an accident that occurred in June 2019. In December of this year, he was booked with two DUI counts. Then, in June 2020, one of the crash victims passed away. As a result, the State changed the information a week later, reclassifying one of the DUI offenses as manslaughter.
The defendant then allegedly filed a motion to have the manslaughter charges against him dismissed, claiming that the State had violated his right to a speedy trial under the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and that the new charges should be dismissed because they were filed after the applicable time period had passed. He further asserted that he would have been tried before the death of the victim if the COVID-19 epidemic had not occurred. His motion was refused by the court, which ruled that the quick trial regulation had been suspended due to the pandemic. The defendant then filed an appeal.
A Right to a Speedy Trial
The court did not examine whether the suspension of the fast trial rule allowed the State to charge the defendant when it would have been illegal otherwise on appeal. According to the court, the applicable regulation requires that everyone charged with a felony be tried within 175 days of their arrest and that the time limits apply to all offenses committed during the same incident.
The rule does not apply, however, when a defendant is charged with a new offense that was not available at the time of the initial charges. In other words, when new facts emerge regarding the defendant’s actions that alter the character of the actions, it can result in new criminal charges. As a result, the court determined that the manslaughter allegation was not unlawful because the victim’s death provided a basis for a new offense.
Meet with a Seasoned Tampa Attorney
Criminal defendants have a number of rights, and if any of those rights are violated, the case may be dismissed. It is to your best advantage to talk with an attorney as quickly as possible if you have been charged with a crime. The seasoned Tampa criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law are dedicated to protecting the rights of people accused of unlawful activity, and if we represent you, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a conference.