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The Right to a Speedy Trial

In criminal cases, the person charged with a crime referred to as “the defendant,” has certain constitutional rights. Among those rights is the right to a speedy trial. The word “speedy,” however, has different meanings depending on what a person is charged with. Speedy trial time limitations are governed by New York Criminal Procedure Law § 30.30. It states that with few exceptions, the prosecution must announce to the Judge that the prosecution is "ready for trial." And, the prosecution must actually be ready for trial. The breakdown is as follows.

  • Where at least one crime charged is a felony, the prosecution must announce readiness within six months of the time the criminal action commences.
  • For cases involving misdemeanors punishable with a sentence of more than three months as the most serious charge, the prosecution must announce readiness within 90 days of the commencement of the criminal action.
  • For cases where the most serious offense is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than three months, the prosecution must announce readiness within 60 days of the commencement of a criminal action.
  • In cases where the defendant is accused of a violation that is not considered a crime, the prosecution must announce readiness within 30 days from the commencement of the criminal action.

If the prosecution does not announce ready for trial within the applicable timeframe and is not actually ready for trial, the charges could be dismissed.

CUSTODY AND SPEEDY TRIALS

In some cases, a person may be held in custody while their criminal case is pending. In those situations, there are even more stringent rules. In most cases, a person held in custody is entitled to release on bail or their own recognizance with just and reasonable conditions if the government cannot be ready for trial within a shorter time period, as follows.

  • Where at least one crime charged is a felony, the prosecution must announce readiness within 90 days of the time the criminal action commences.
  • For cases involving misdemeanors punishable with a sentence of more than three months as the most serious charge, the prosecution must announce readiness within 30 days of the commencement of the criminal action.
  • For cases where the most serious offense is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than three months, the prosecution must announce readiness within 15 days of the commencement of a criminal action.
  • In cases where the defendant is accused of a violation that is not considered a crime, the prosecution must announce readiness five days from the commencement of the criminal action.

If the prosecution does not announce ready for trial within the applicable timeframe and is not actually ready for trial, the person accused must be released from custody. While the charges are not dismissed, the accused is no longer held in jail. And, the clock is still ticking on the timeframes set forth for dismissal too!

ARE YOU CHARGED WITH A CRIME?

If you are charged with a crime, you have constitutional rights. These include but are not limited to a right to a speedy trial. At Frost & Kavanaugh, we work with our clients to make certain they understand all of their rights in criminal cases. Contact us today for a consultation at (518) 730-4222.

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