The facts and circumstances of every criminal case are unique. Regardless of this fact, the skill and competence of your defense attorney plays a large part in the outcome. If you’re a defendant in a criminal action, you want an attorney that will pay careful attention to all of the details as the case proceeds, because the outcome of the case sometimes depends on what takes place after the case has commenced. Very few things illustrates this point more than maintaining an awareness of “speedy trial time” – the accused’s constitutional right to have a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. With that said, let me give you a case study regarding the issue of speedy trial time with respect to a client who was facing several misdemeanor charges.
A little while back, a potential client came to my office. He was a young college student with a bright future ahead of him. However, he had been in a rocky romantic relationship which led to him being charged with the following crimes in two different jurisdictions:
- One count of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree (NY Penal Law 135.05).
- One count of assault in the third degree (NY Penal Law 120.00);
- One count of criminal contempt in the second degree (NY Penal Law 215.50);
- One count of criminal mischief in the fourth degree (New York Penal Law 145.00);
- One count of attempted assault in the third degree (NY Penal Law 110/120.00); and
- One count of harassment in the second degree (NY Penal Law 240.26).
Given the nature of the charges, I spent a lot of time learning about the “off-and-on” nature of his relationship, as this could potentially affect the trajectory of the case. And indeed it did. It came to a point where the accuser no longer wanted to pursue criminal charges.
With the witness no longer wanting to pursue criminal charges, it became clear that the prosecutor had a very uncooperative witness. The lack of a cooperative witness DOES NOT in and of itself mean that the case is over. However, it does present several problems for the prosecutor when it’s the sole witness in the case. To be sure, they could always subpoena the witness to testify, but an uncooperative witness could do more damage than good at a trial. Understanding this, it became clear that the prosecutor was unlikely going to be ready within the specified time period and have a “speedy trial” issue.
In all criminal cases in the United States, the accused has a constitutional right to have a speedy trial. This means the accusing body (i.e. the District Attorney or U.S. Attorney) has to be ready for trial within a specified period of time, depending on the class of charges and jurisdiction. In New York State, for crimes that fall into the category of an “A misdemeanor,” the District Attorney has a “speedy trial clock” of 90 days, under Article 30 of New York Criminal Procedure Law.
A huge part of being thoroughly prepared in a case is paying attention to the “speedy trial clock.” Like in sports, when your team is ahead, sometimes you have to let the time on the clock run down. As time ticked away on the “speedy trial clock”, I was able to have very productive discussions with the prosecutors in both jurisdictions. Indeed, I was able to get all charges dismissed outright in Jurisdiction 2 on speedy trial grounds. In Jurisdiction 1, I was able negotiate a non-criminal disposition when it became clear to the prosecutor that they were faced with the specter of going to trial with ether NO witness or at best, a very reluctant witness.
My client’s future remained bright. In fact it got brighter.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
Navigating the criminal justice system is difficult and has serious consequences. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is one of the single most important decisions you will make in your life. Make sure you hire an attorney that takes time to understand you as a person and your case in its entirety. Keeping accurate count of speedy trial time of a felony or misdemeanor case is just one of the myriad issues that attorneys need to stay aware of.
At the Law Office of Kevin J. Deloatch, Esq. each case is handled from the initial stage with the thoroughness as if it were going to trial. This enables me to not only understand the strengths of the defense, but more importantly, to effectively convey to the prosecutor the weaknesses of their case.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in New York call the Law Office of Kevin J. Deloatch, Esq. at (646) 792-2156. The results of all criminal prosecutions are determined by the facts and circumstances of your specific case and the skill and experience of your defense attorney. Call today for a free consultation.