Criminal defendants, including people charged with DUI offenses, are afforded the right to a speedy trial by both Florida law and the United States Constitution. If a court violates this right by failing to try a person for a DUI offense in a timely manner, it may constitute grounds for a dismissal, but not all delays will be considered a violation of a person’s rights. What delays are permissible was the topic of a recent Florida opinion, in which the court denied a defendant’s appeal based on an alleged violation of his right to a speedy trial. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a knowledgeable Florida DUI defense attorney about your rights.
The Defendant’s Charges
It is reported that an officer arrested the defendant in November 2019 for an accident that occurred in June 2019. He was charged with two DUI charges in December 2019. Then, in June 2020, one of the victims of the crash died. As such, a week later, the State amended the information to change one of the DUI charges to DUI manslaughter.
Allegedly, the defendant then moved to have DUI manslaughter charges against him discharged, arguing that the State violated his right to a speedy trial pursuant to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and that the new charges should be dismissed because they were filed after the applicable time period expired. He further stated that had the COVID-19 pandemic not occurred, he would have been tried prior to the victim’s death. The court denied his motion, ruling that the speedy trial rule was suspended during the pandemic. The defendant then appealed.
The Right to a Speedy Trial
On appeal, the court did not address the issue of whether the suspension of the speedy trial rule permitted the State to charge the defendant when it otherwise would have been impermissible. The court stated that the applicable rule provides that anyone charged with a felony must be tried within 175 days of the arrest and that the time limitations applied to all crimes arising out of the same episode.
The court explained, though, the rule does not apply when a defendant is charged with a new offense that was not available at the time of the original charges. In other words, when new facts arise out of the defendant’s conduct that changes the character of the defense, a new crime will result. Thus, the court ruled that, as the victim’s death provided a basis for a new charge, the DUI manslaughter charge was not improper.
Meet with an Experienced Florida Attorney
DUI defendants have numerous rights, and if their rights are violated, it may provide a basis for a dismissal. If you are accused of committing a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Florida DUI defense attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are well-versed in what it takes to obtain a favorable outcome, and if you hire us, we will zealously pursue the best result possible in your case. You can contact us through our form online or at 800-283-7442 to schedule a conference.