The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees defendants in criminal cases the right to speedy trials. This protection is in place to help ensure that a person presumed to be innocent of an alleged offense does not sit in jail until their scheduled court date (which could be months after they have been arrested for an offense). A violation of this right could mean that the case against the defendant is wiped out.
In Ohio, the speedy trial time limits are summarized below:
- Minor misdemeanor: 30 days (10 days if in jail)
- Misdemeanor of the fourth- or third-degree: 45 days (15 days if in jail)
- Misdemeanor of the second- or first-degree: 90 days (30 days if in jail)
- All felonies: 270 days (90 days if in jail)
If the prosecutor fails to bring a case to trial within the required time limit, it must be dismissed. Under ordinary circumstances, if you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, and your case is unnecessarily delayed, you wouldn't be tried for the alleged crime.
However, we are living in unprecedented times. The coronavirus has shaken nearly every sector of society, including the criminal justice system. We are under "stay at home" directives and social distancing recommendations, and Ohio courts have responded by postponing some legal processes.
Your case might be scheduled for a later date. In relation to the speedy trial law, this might seem like great news. You would think that a postponement of your case means your constitutional rights are being violated. Hold your horses. That's not necessarily true.
It appears that all courts across Ohio agree that the current public health emergency may be "considered to be a finding of good cause for continuances deemed necessary by assigned Judges on a case-by-case basis."
Proposed Measures that Could Affect Speedy Trials and Other Processes
The Ohio Legislature is considering new legislation that extends the time limits on speedy trial, statutes of limitation, and fugitive extradition proceedings. If such legislation is passed, there's no telling how long your case or a loved one's will drag on.
Therefore, it's important to retain the services of a criminal defense attorney familiar with the court processes and such unique criminal proceedings.
If you or a loved one has been, or might be affected, by any of the issues of the proposed legislation, our attorneys at Henderson, Mokhtari & Weatherly Co. L.P.A. can help. Call us at (216) 220-6776 or contact us online. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions.