NY's Speedy Trial Laws in the Age of COVID-19
If you have been charged with a crime in New York, you have the right to a speedy trial. If this right is violated, your criminal charges will be dismissed. However, without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, it can be difficult to determine whether your right to a speedy trial has been violated. To add to it, the combination of 2020’s discovery reform, the COVID-19 pandemic, the speedy trial suspension and the growing wave of unindicted felony cases has created a perfect storm that is bound to have a profound impact on criminal caseloads and trials for months to come. Therefore, it is highly recommended that anyone charged with a crime contact a New York Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Below is some additional information on your right to a speedy trial in New York.
Where Does This Right Come From?
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial. Unfortunately, however, very few criminal cases are dismissed based on the constitutional right to a speedy trial. Rather, most speedy trial dismissals are based on New York’s speedy trial law, which is found in New York Criminal Procedure Law 30.30. In fact, C.P.L. 30.30, is relied upon so long that the term dismissed 30.30, has practically become a term of art in the New York criminal courts. This law sets time limits by which different types of criminal cases must commence. Specifically, New York’s speedy trial law imposes the following requirements:
- For felonies (crimes that are punishable by more than one year in jail), the case must be ready for trial within six months.
- For class A misdemeanors (crimes that are punishable by up to one year in jail), the case must be ready for trial within 90 days.
- For class B misdemeanors (crimes that are punishable by up to 90 days in jail), the case must be ready for trial within 60 days.
- For violations (non-criminal offenses that are punishable by up to 15 days in jail), the case must be ready for trial within 30 days.
The criminal court Judges, often bend over backwards to avoid dismissing cases and that has resulted in Court created exceptions, that often seem to swallow the rule. Not every calendar day counts towards the speedy trial time limit for the above types of crimes. Rather, certain periods are excluded, which can actually extend the limits listed above. For example, when a criminal defendant consents to adjourn his or her case to a future date, the period of adjournment isn’t counted for purposes of calculating whether the speedy trial requirements have been met. Another exception, which hasw been the source of exceptional gamesmanship, has been adjournments by the Court, where the Court cannot accomodate a trial. Prosecutors for years have taken advantage of this, by claiming that they are always ready on every trial, becaues they know that the Court cannot accomodate so many trials. Due to excluded time, many cases continue for years without accumulating speedy-trial violations. Even in cases in which defendants don’t consent to adjournment, prosecutors sometimes take advantage of these exceptions to delay trial.
However, even despite these exceptions, courts frequently dismiss criminal cases due to violations of the New York’s speedy trial requirements. Therefore, anyone facing criminal charges in New York should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. These usually occur, where the Court cannot possibly be the source of delay, such as felony cases, where the prosecution fails to secure an indictment within six months, or the Court actually schedules a trial and the people are continuously unable to go forward.
During Covid, criminal defendants saw the speedy trial laws frustrated. The underlying purpose of the speedy trial laws are to make sure people charged with crimes, do not have the charges drag on indefinitely. As a result of the Covid pandemnic, Governor Cuomo, issed an Executive Order, which suspended the speedy trial laws for several months. which essentially halted teh speedy trial time.
In the best of times, New York State’s criminal speedy trial laws are only marginally enforced with gamesmanship being the rule rather than the exception. However recent changes to the criminal procedure law, now require prosecutors to provide discovery, prior to contending that they are ready for trial. The COVID-19 pandemic’s profound impact on everything from routine court appearance to trials, combined with an executive order suspending the speedy trial rules for criminal cases, and a growing wave of unindicted felony cases, 2020 was an unusual year for New York State’s criminal justice system, which resulted in uncertainty for those facing criminal charges. If you are facing criminal charges, call our New York and Westchester criminal defense attorneys to discuss whether your speedy trial rights have been violated.
NEW YORK CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
If you’ve been charged with a crime in New York, it’s imperative that you engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney in order to achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Our NYC and Westchester criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience in defending criminal charges in the New York City and Westchester criminal courts.