A defendant who has been delayed from being brought to trial within a reasonable time may move the court for an order dismissing the complaint on the grounds that his or her speedy trial rights have been violated. Mr. Bruno routinely files such motions where appropriate. Below is an example of such a motion that was granted in Superior Court.
Defendant moves the court for an order dismissing the complaint in the above-entitled matter on the ground that her right to a speedy trial has been violated pursuant to the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 15, of the California Constitution, and section 1050 of the California Penal Code. (Serna v. Superior Court (1985) 40 Cal.3d 239.)
In a criminal matter, the defendant has the right to a speedy, public trial (U.S. Constitution, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments; California Constitution, Article I, section 15), and in a misdemeanor prosecution that right attaches when a criminal complaint is filed. (Scherling v. Superior Court (1978) 22 Cal.3d 493; Rost v. Municipal Court (1960) 184 Cal.App.2d 507.)
Further, a delay between the filing of a misdemeanor complaint and the arrest and prosecution of the defendant, which exceeds the length of the statute of limitations, is unreasonable and presumptively prejudicial. (Serna v. Superior Court (1985) 40 Cal.3d 239; Harris v. Municipal Court (1930) 209 Cal. 55.)
When a delay in bringing the defendant to trial after the filing of a formal charge becomes presumptively prejudicial, and the defendant seeks dismissal of the charges on the ground that his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial has been violated, the court must balance the relevant factors — the length of the delay, the reason for the delay, defendant's assertion of the right and the prejudice to the defendant — in assessing whether the delay has deprived the defendant of that right. ( Barker v. Wingo (1972) 407 U.S. 514, 530.) The defendant need not establish actual prejudice as a prerequisite to a hearing at which evidence relevant to this balancing process is heard. (Moore v. Arizona (1973) 414 U.S. 25, 26.)
Therefore, if a misdemeanor complaint also triggers Sixth Amendment protections, the defendant seeking dismissal on the ground that his right to a speedy trial has been violated need not demonstrate actual prejudice as a prerequisite to a judicial consideration of his claim. (Serna, supra, at 40 Cal.3d, 252.)
Thus, once the defendant establishes that the length of the delay between the filing of the complaint and the arrest thereon exceeds the statute of limitations applicable to misdemeanors, the burden then shifts to the prosecution to justify the delay by showing that legitimate law enforcement concerns cause or contribute to the delay. (Ibid.)
In the instant matter, the delay between the filing of the complaint and the arrest of the defendant thereon amounted to over two years. This delay is beyond the one-year statute of limitations period for misdemeanors and, thus, prejudice to defendant's right to a speedy trial is presumed under Serna v. Superior Court. Ultimately then, dismissal of the charges against the defendant are mandated absent a showing by the prosecution that the delay is justified.
Your rights are important to us at BRUNO│NALU. If you have been charged with a crime and would like to know more about whether or not a speedy trial motion is appropriate in your case, contact our law firm in Orange County. We offer a free face-to-face consultation and can work out a payment plan in most situations.