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NEW YORK SPEEDY TRIAL – Part 1

As summarized in our recently posted New York Speedy Trial web page, the New York Criminal Procedure Law contains a statutory speedy trial requirement which is separate and apart from the constitutional right to a speedy trial and which is a very valuable tool in the arsenals of experienced criminal defense lawyers in New York. In this and upcoming blogs we will highlight some of the more important aspects of New York speedy trial.

Firstly, the statutory periods vary depending on the seriousness of the offense. That is to say that the time from the commencement of the action until the time that the people must be ready for trial or face dismissal of the action varies depending on the seriousness of the offense. They are as follows:

Felony; Six months from commencement less excludable periods. [CPL 30.30(1)(a)]
Misdemeanor – When Facing More Than Three Months; Ninety days from commencement less excludable periods. [CPL 30.30(1)(b)]
Misdemeanor – When Facing Not More Than Three Months; Sixty days from commencement less excludable periods. [CPL 30.30(1)(c)].

Violation; Thirty days from commencement less excludable periods. [CPL 30.30(1)(c)].

It should be noted that although the speedy trial period is 5 years for felonies regardless of the class of felony, the above speedy trial readiness periods do not apply where the defendant is charged with a homicide case, such as: Criminally Negligent Homicide [PL 125.10]; Manslaughter in the Second Degree [PL 125.15]; Manslaughter in the First Degree [PL 125.20]; Murder in the Second Degree [PL 125.25]; Aggravated Murder [PL 125.26]; and Murder in the First Degree [PL 125.27].

While the People do not have to be ready within the time period set forth in CPL 30.30(1) when the defendant is charged with the aforementioned homicide offenses, defendant is nevertheless still constitutionally guaranteed a speedy trial. See CPL 30.20.

A constitutional speedy trial claim involves a sensitive weighing of a variety of factors, including: “(1) the extent of the delay; (2) the reason for the delay; (3) the nature of the underlying charge; (4) whether or not there has been an extended period of pretrial incarceration; and (5) whether or not there is any indication that the defense has been impaired by reason of the delay.” People v Taranovich, 37 N.Y.2d 442, 445). No one of these elements or partial combination thereof is determinative, as all having applicability must be considered carefully. Id at 445.

There is no set or rigid period of delay which automatically triggers a constitutional speedy trial violation. Instead each case is determined on its own facts and consideration of the “threefold purpose of the speedy trial guarantee — protection against prolonged imprisonment, relief from anxiety and public suspicion attendant upon an untried accusation and prevention of loss of the means to prove innocence it being recognized that the greater the delay the more probable it is that the accused will be harmed thereby.” People v. Imbesi, 38 N.Y.2d 629, 631-632 (1976)(internal citations and quotations omitted).

These are just a few of the areas that should be considered with regard to speedy trial issues in New York. They are complex and should be discussed with an attorney experienced in New York speedy trial issues and the speedy trial motions that should be made in some criminal cases. If you or a loved one has questions about speedy trial or thinks that they are being denied a speedy trial, you should contact Tilem & Campbell to discuss your rights.