Tulsa Attorney BlogWhat Is Your Right to Speedy Trial in an Oklahoma Criminal Case?

There Are Two Ways to Look at Speedy Trials


criminal defense attorney in Tulsa, OklahomaVideo Transcribed: What is your right to a speedy trial in an Oklahoma criminal case? I’m Tulsa attorney James Wirth. And that’s the question that we have. Speedy trial rights in Oklahoma. Speedy trial is documented in a lot of different places under the law. It’s in the US Constitution. It’s in the state constitution. It’s in the state code as well, state statutes as well. For instance, we’ve got Title 22, section 13 says, “In a criminal action, the defendant is entitled to, among other things, a speedy and public trial.”

Also, we’ve got Supreme Court cases such as Doggett that define that and what it means and when you’re entitled to relief. What does it mean? There are two different ways that we look at it. One is under Oklahoma statute, and one is under US constitutional law. This statute… I’m sorry. This video is going to talk about the Oklahoma statute, and then the next video is going to talk about constitutional law.

Constitutional issues… That is the circumstances we actually see a lot of relief. My firm’s been able to get dismissals in many, many cases for violation of speedy trial rights there. Under the state statutes, not as much. It pertains to a different circumstance.

Let’s talk about the state statutes. State statute… It’s Title 22, section 812.1. What it says is, “If any person charged with a crime and held in jail solely by reason thereof is not brought to trial within one year after the arrest, the court shall set the case for an immediate review to determine if the right of the accused to a speedy trial is being protected,” that is if you are arrested and thrown in jail, and you don’t bond out, then this review is triggered at the one-year mark.

Now, if you’re arrested and you do bond out, the second provision deals with that. It says that you have to be brought to trial within 18 months. If you haven’t, then you get this review. If you’re in custody, it’s one year. If you’re out of custody, it’s 18 months. If you don’t have a trial by then, then it goes to a review, which is detailed in Title 22, section 812.2. Basically, at that point, the state is incumbent to set it for a hearing and give proper notice, and then evidence actually is going to be heard. The court has to decide whether there’s been an unreasonable delay on the part of the state. There are a number of factors that we look to as far as what is the reason for the delay. If the delay is the result of the accused, the accused’s attorney, then they’re not really going to factor that in as being a denial of a right to a speedy trial. If the accused is incompetent to stand trial, then that’s going to be a factor that weighs against the defendant’s rights being violated.

If the defendant is incompetent or there’s a competency determination that’s happening and that’s ongoing, then that can be an excuse for violation of that one year. If there’s a material witness, which is unavailable, and the state is putting effort into trying to make that person available, if there are co-conspirators/co-defendants that are being tried separately and it’s been determined that those cases need to go first, then that can cause the delay, and that can be an excusable delay. If the court has other cases where the person has been incarcerated longer and then prioritizing those… That’s one that we see frequently, particularly in Tulsa County, busier counties, where there are a lot of cases that need to be tried. They have to decide which ones are going to go first. It’s going to be in custody before out of custody. It’s going to be ones that have been in custody longer before ones that have been in more recently. That is an excuse the state has there.

Also, if there are delays due to illnesses, that can be excusable. Then, we’ve got the catch-all. Due to other reasonable grounds, the court does not have sufficient time to commence the trial of the case within the time limit fixed for trial. You got that catch-all provision. But after having that evidentiary hearing, which is required if you don’t get your trial within a year if you’re in custody or 18 months if you’re out of custody, then the court has to decide if, after hearing all of the evidence and the legal arguments are properly submitted, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the state is not proceeding with due diligence and that none of the exceptions that I noted above apply, then the court shall dismiss the case. It is mandatory dismissal if the court finds that it went beyond those time limits and none of those are applicable.

Now, the case can be refiled if there was a preliminary hearing. The case can be refiled only upon newly discovered evidence. If there was not a preliminary hearing that was held in the case, the case may be filed upon good cause shown unless the statute of limitations has passed. Long story short, this can be a ground to get a case dismissed if there’s unreasonable delay. Practically speaking, it is very unusual to get a dismissal on these grounds under this statute. Most of the time, the court is going to find that there is good cause for the delay based on one of these subsections or the catch-all subsection.

Obviously, at the time when the courts were shut down for COVID, a lot of things got delayed. There were many, many months where there were no jury trials at all. Things went delayed. There had to be a lot of determinations regarding speedy trial rights. But a couple of these exceptions here were found to be applicable under the circumstances. There were not a lot of cases dismissed because of that. That is the process that you go through for a speedy trial. Now, as I said, under constitutional law, there are other grounds for a speedy trial that are a different type of exception. Here it’s where there’s a case that’s filed. You’re arrested. You’re brought before the court. But what if the case is filed and you’re not brought before a court and there’s a delay there? That’s what we’re going to cover in our next video.

If you’ve got questions regarding your right to a speedy trial or criminal defense in Oklahoma at all, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney privately and confidentially about your circumstances. To get that scheduled with an Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer at my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com.

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