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New York Appellate Court Dismisses Defendant’s Murder Charge Based on a Violation of His Right to a Speedy Trial

New York speedy trial statutes can be very effective tools in fighting New York criminal cases ss we have discussed in several blogs.  Earlier this month, the New York Court of Appeals issued an opinion  dismissing a New York homicide case and discussing the defendant’s right to a speedy trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that the six-and-a-half year wait between the defendant’s arrest and his eventual guilty plea violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial. As a result, the court reversed the defendant’s guilty plea and dismissed the indictment.

Concertina WireThe Facts of the Case

The defendant, along with his co-defendant, was alleged to have shot and killed a 15-year-old. The defendant was the one who allegedly pulled the trigger, and the co-defendant acted as an accomplice. Both the defendant and his co-defendant were arrested shortly after the victim’s death, on May 28, 2008. The defendant was held without bail.

The prosecutor hoped that the co-defendant would testify against the defendant and delayed the trial several times while trying to work out a deal with the co-defendant. However, when asked at a later date, the co-defendant explained that he would never testify against the defendant, and he did not consider the offer seriously.

The prosecutor strongly believed that the state’s case against the defendant would be much stronger with the testimony of the co-defendant. Thus, the state opted to try the co-defendant first, in hopes of securing a conviction, at which point the prosecution could try to then strike a deal whereby the co-defendant would testify against the defendant in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

For several years, the co-defendant’s case was continued. Once the trial arrived, the first trial resulted in a mistrial, and the co-defendant was tried three more times before the state gave up. By this time, it had been six and a half years since the defendant’s arrest.

The defendant sought to dismiss the case, based on the lengthy delay between his arrest and the beginning of his trial. However, he later withdrew the motion and entered a guilty plea in exchange for a 12-year sentence. The defendant later appealed.

On appeal, the court concluded that the prosecutor took too long to try the defendant, and the long wait was not excusable. Thus, the defendant’s speedy trial rights were violated, and his conviction was reversed. The court explained that there are five factors that must be considered when determining whether a delay violated a defendant’s speedy trial rights.

The considerations are:

  • The length of the delay;
  • The reason for the delay;
  • The nature of the underlying charge;
  • Whether the defendant was incarcerated during the pendency of the trial; and
  • Whether the delay affected the defendant’s ability to defend against the charges.

Ultimately, after reviewing each factor, the court concluded that they weighed in favor of the defendant. The court explained that, while the seriousness of the charges weighed in favor of the prosecution, there was no valid reason to delay the case for so long while the defendant was incarcerated.

Have You Been Charged with a Criminal Offense?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a crime like murder, you need the assistance of a dedicated New York homicide defense attorney. The New York criminal defense attorneys at Tilem & Associates, P.C. have decades of collective experience handling a wide range of cases. We represent clients in all types of New York criminal trials, including DUIs, gun charges, assaults, and drug offenses. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney, call 877-377-8666 today.

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New York Appellate Court Upholds Murder Conviction, Rejects Defendant’s Challenge to Voluntariness of Confession

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