We have discussed in past blogs how New York’s speedy trial statute can be effectively used in many criminal cases. In a recent case coming out of a New York court, the defendant appealed convictions for three misdemeanor counts and three traffic infractions that had arisen in 2014. On appeal, the defendant argued that an amendment to New York’s speedy trial statute should apply retroactively; thus, he was entitled to a dismissal. The court of appeals considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed, explaining that the statute in question did not apply to the offense for which the defendant was seeking relief.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, approximately eight years ago, the defendant was criminally charged based on traffic violations. 17 months after being charged, the defendant moved to dismiss the charges based on a New York statute that guarantees defendants the right to a speedy trial. The statute includes provisions stating that if a defendant is subject to unreasonable delay because the prosecution is not ready for trial, that defendant can use this statute to argue for a dismissal. At the time of his motion to dismiss, however, the statute did not apply to defendants charged with traffic infractions. Thus, the defendant’s argument was unsuccessful.
In 2019, however, the legislature changed the language of the New York statute, explicitly including defendants charged with traffic infractions as individuals eligible for dismissal because of unreasonable prosecutorial delay. Upon hearing this news, the defendant again brought up this argument, stating that now he was in the class of people that could benefit from the statute. The court of appeals was thus faced with the decision of whether or not the defendant’s case could indeed be dismissed because of the statute.