What Are the Speedy Trial Laws in New York?
The most common way to get a criminal case dismissed in New York is to use speedy trial laws.
Most cases aren’t dismissed because the prosecution or judge believes that the defendant is innocent. Instead, the cases are dismissed because of a technicality—the government hasn’t prosecuted the case quickly enough.
Although some defendants prefer for their case to be dismissed on the merits—because they are innocent—ultimately all dismissals are the same—your case is over in your favor, and you can move on with your life.
This guide discusses the ways to get a speedy trial dismissed, whether it be through New York Criminal Procedure Law 30.30 or the U.S. Constitution.
What is the Right to a Speedy Trial?
First and foremost, what exactly is the right to a speedy trial?
In a nutshell, you have the right for the prosecution to swiftly prosecute your case so that your case doesn’t linger.
Our society wants speedy trials, because we want to quickly bring the guilty to punishment, and we want accused innocent people to get their “day in court” as soon as possible so that the inconvenience and uncertainty of a pending criminal case no longer hangs over their heads.
The length of time for the prosecution to take your case to trial depends on the seriousness of the charges against you. The more serious the crime, the more time that the prosecution gets to prepare its case against you.
If your case is not taken to trial quickly enough, then your attorney can file a motion for your case to be dismissed due to the prosecution violating your right to a speedy trial.
In New York, defendants have two different ways to get a speedy trial dismissal. The first is their statutory right to a speedy trial under C.P.L. 30.30, which is the most common form of speedy trial dismissal. The second, less common form of dismissal, occurs when a defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial is violated.
30.30 Speedy Trial Dismissal
A case gets dismissed through the C.P.L. 30.30 speedy trial statute when the prosecution is not ready for trial within the following number of days:
- 30 days (non-criminal violations);
- 60 days (Class B misdemeanors);
- 90 days (Class A misdemeanors); and
- 6 months (felonies)
However, many exceptions apply under C.P.L. 30.30(4). These exceptions can make certain stages of a criminal case not includable in the speedy trial time calculation. Sometimes years of time are not chargeable to the prosecution. Common periods of time that are not included are:
- Adjournments for counsel to file motions
- Adjournments on consent of defense counsel; and
- Unavailable defendant
When the prosecution has clearly violated a defendant’s right to a speedy trial, usually they will agree that the case should be dismissed and will do so at the next court date. However, sometimes the prosecution argues that certain exceptions apply, and they should not be charged with all the time that has elapsed since the case began.
When the prosecution does not agree to dismiss a case pursuant to 30.30, a defense attorney can file a motion for the judge to dismiss the case. If the judge grants the motion, then the case will be dismissed and sealed.
Constitutional Speedy Trial Dismissal
Although uncommon, a case can be dismissed when your constitutional right to a speedy trial is violated.
The constitutional right to a speedy trial is less concrete than the right as given by the 30.30 statute. While the 30.30 statute provides precise periods of time that the prosecution has in order to be ready for trial, your constitutional right does not include a specific period of time by which the prosecution must be ready for trial.
Instead, the court considers certain factors when assessing whether your right to a speedy trial has been violated. These factors include:
- The length of delay;
- The reason for the delay;
- The time and manner in which the defendant asserted his right; and
- The degree of prejudice to the defendant which the delay has caused.
The most important factor is the degree of prejudice to the defendant resulting from the delay. For instance, say you were charged with murder, and you had an eyewitness who said you didn’t commit the crime. You wanted that person to testify on your behalf at trial, but your case drags out for years, and your witness dies before your trial starts. If your case was delayed for no legitimate reason, you may be able to get your case dismissed because your constitutional right to a speedy trial was arguably violated.
If you have been charged with a crime, give NYC criminal lawyer Cody Warner a call for a free consultation. He can evaluate your case to develop a strategic defense plan and make sure your speedy trial rights are protected.