The U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to a speedy trial. In Florida, the natural speedy trial period for a felony is 175 days. For a misdemeanor, the speedy trial period is 90 days.
A natural speedy trial period begins to run from the date of arrest. If the State of Florida does not bring you to trial within 90 days on a misdemeanor, or 175 days on a felony, the case must be dismissed.
Delays attributed to the accused, such as taking a defense continuance (requesting more time from the Court), voluntarily waiving the right to a speedy trial, entering into pretrial diversion (PTD) or pretrial intervention (PTI), or failing to appear in Court (bench warrant or alias capias issued), will eliminate the speedy trial period. The only way to reclaim the right to a speedy trial is to file a formal Demand For Speedy Trial.
Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191(b) permits an accused to demand that his or her case be brought to trial within 50 days of filing a Demand For Speedy Trial. The Court will first set a calendar call (hearing) no later than 5 days after the Demand is filed. Then, the Court will set the trial date within 45 days of that calendar call.
A Demand For Speedy Trial is a strategic move, and should only be done after careful consultation with a criminal defense attorney. That criminal lawyer should have experience filing Demands For Speedy Trial in Miami-Dade and Broward Courts. I have done both.
The thing to realize about a Demand For Speedy Trial is that once you file it, you are bound. You cannot withdraw it unless the State agrees, or there is good cause. Also, by filing a Demand, you are telling the State and the Court that you have dilligently investigated the case and are ready for trial.
People sometimes use a Demand when the State's case is falling apart and they cannot locate their witnesses. While the State can, and often does, prosecute cases without the aid of alleged victims or testifying witnesses (especially in domestic violence cases), this can be a good tool to use in disposing of the case. However, it can also backfire. Make sure you discuss the option of filing a Demand For Speedy Trial with your criminal defense lawyer very thoroughly before proceeding.
I have prosecuted cases in which Demands have been filed, and I have also defended clients where I and the client have filed a Demand. While each and every case is different, I have succeeded in getting cases dismissed due to filing a Demand For Speedy Trial. This is a tool that puts pressure on the State, and if their case is falling apart, they will likely collapse under the strain of having to work quickly.
A Demand For Speedy Trial may or may not be a good option in your case. Contact me today to discuss.