If You’re Denied a Speedy Trial, You’re Denied a Fair Trial
Video Transcribed: Speedy trial dismissals are common in Oklahoma under the right circumstances. I’m Tulsa attorney James Wirth, and that is the topic of our video.
My last video dealt with the speedy trial rights under Oklahoma law that says that if you are arrested and in custody, then you need to have a trial within a year, or you have to have a hearing to determine why it wasn’t done within a year and then you have four months to do it or have another hearing on why it isn’t done yet. Or if you’re out of custody, it’s 18 months and the same thing. All right, under that, as I told you in the prior video, it’s very unusual for charges to be dismissed for want or denial of speedy trial. Most of the time one of the exceptions applies in the court, finds that it’s okay that the state has had some delay, and that it was necessary.
All right. But in this circumstance, it’s very common to get dismissals of criminal cases. My firm has done this many times. I personally have done this many times and gotten dismissals where our client’s right for speedy trial in the US Constitutional was violated. But this is in a different scenario under the right facts. So here we’re dealing with somebody who had criminal charges filed but was not arrested. They were not brought into court, they were not advised that they had a warrant for their arrest and a lot of time went by before they were. And by the time they were arrested, they’d got an excellent argument that their rights to a speedy trial were violated.
Okay, so why was it violated? What are the thoughts and the circumstances of speedy trial rights? Well, if you’re denied a speedy trial, you’re denied a fair trial. And in a case like this, that is because the state had an opportunity to investigate their charges before they filed them and they had an opportunity to get their evidence and protect that evidence. And they had an opportunity to find the witnesses and get the witness statements and preserve all of that. Meanwhile, they didn’t arrest the defendant and didn’t tell the defendant that they had criminal charges. So the defendant didn’t know that they needed to do their investigation, talk to their witnesses, get their witness statements, look for anything exculpatory and protect it and preserve it. So they’re at a natural disadvantage when years go by and the state has preserved everything and the defendant has preserved nothing. So meanwhile, witnesses’ memories have faded, documents have been lost or destroyed, and witnesses have disappeared or perhaps died.
And this came up recently in a course case with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. They actually published it, it’s 2022 OK CR 30 State of Oklahoma versus Raby, R-A-B-Y. And in that case, the person was investigated for attempting to obtain a controlled endangered substance by fraud. And they lived in Texas, but they were in Oklahoma temporarily. By the time criminal charges were filed, it looks like they were back in Texas because the investigation reports note that they had a Texas address.
So the state of Oklahoma filed the criminal charges against them, but then they didn’t do anything to actively serve that warrant to get them picked up to brought back to the state of Oklahoma, they just kind of sat on it and waited for the defendant to come to them, but the defendant didn’t know to come to them because they weren’t advised that there was a warrant even out there. So meanwhile, 10 years go by before the defendant finds out about the warrant when they get arrested and brought to justice in Oklahoma on that, and they immediately assert their right to violation of a speedy trial. I didn’t have an opportunity to investigate this, to preserve exculpatory evidence, 10 years have gone by.
So that under those circumstances, it’s an excellent case to bring a motion to dismiss for want a speedy trial. As I said, my firm’s done this many times, has successfully done this many times. And what the court has to do is has to analyze it under the Doggett case, which is the United States Supreme Court, that then uses the Barker factors. And those factors are one, length of delay, two, the reason for the delay, three, the assertion of the right to a speedy trial, and then four, prejudice to the defendant.
So the first one we looked at is the length of the delay. If the length of the delay is over a year, then that means we automatically move forward and look at the rest of these factors. If it’s under a year, then perhaps we don’t, unless there’s real demonstrated prejudice.
Then, the reason for the delay. So is the delay the state’s fault or is it the defendant’s fault? If the defendant knew about the warrant and they’re hiding out on it, well then they’re not going to get any love from the court on this when it’s not going to be dismissed. However, most of the time when this occurs, the defendant has no idea about it. They’re going about living their life. A lot of times they even come into contact with law enforcement. They get pulled over, they get a speeding ticket, and still, nobody brings this to their attention. So under those circumstances, there’s not much a defendant can do to prevent that delay, and that delay is on the state. Did they not properly publish the warrant? Did they not look for the person in Texas? Did they not search? Sometimes we’ve had clients that are in state custody or in other states’ custody on other cases. Well, they should know exactly where the defendant is. They should be able to get them transported, but they didn’t do so. So that’s on the state. So the reason for the delay is the state’s fault and the defendant’s fault.
Assertions of the right for a speedy trial. Once the defendant was brought before the court, did they assert the right to a speedy trial, demand a speedy trial, or demand dismissal because it was violated?
And lastly, prejudice toward the defendant. So, we know that it will be prejudicial for time to go by because evidence can’t be preserved. But once time has gone by, it’s very difficult to prove that and the court acknowledges that, the United States Supreme Court, that this is a very difficult thing to prove because we’re trying to prove the existence of something that is too old that it doesn’t exist anymore, right? We’re trying to prove prejudice because of the amount of time that’s gone by. So it can be presumed to be prejudice if enough time has gone by. So in this case, the Raby case, it was 10 years that’s gone by. In the Doggett case, I believe it was eight years, four of which were attributable to the state’s delay. I think they gave them a credit on the other four because they’re out of the country, something along those lines.
So if you’re at the four-year mark or better, it’s pretty clear-cut based on constitutional precedent that you’re entitled to a dismissal. If it’s under that, then you want to look at what arguments you can make related to prejudice and demonstrate that. But anything beyond a year, I think you can presume there’s some prejudice.
So long story short, this is a circumstance where we’ve been able to obtain a lot of dismissals. It’s common to get a dismissal under these grounds. If you present it, make that request for your right to speedy trial and dismissal because it has been denied, get that before the court, file that motion, list out those factors and get that taken care of.
So if this is an issue that you’re dealing with, you’re not going to just want to take the information from this video. You’re going to want to talk to an Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer privately and confidentially about that. To get that scheduled with somebody at my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com.