Today's question comes from someone in Jacksonville. They say they were arrested for a third degree felony 31 weeks ago but they haven't been brought to trial. Can they get their charges dismissed?
The right to a speedy trial is governed in Florida by Rule 3.191 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Subsection (a) states:
"Except as otherwise provided by this rule, and subject to the limitations imposed under subdivisions (e) and (f), every person charged with a crime shall be brought to trial within 90 days of arrest if the crime charged is a misdemeanor, or within 175 days of arrest if the crime charged is a felony. If trial is not commenced within these time periods, the defendant shall be entitled to the appropriate remedy as set forth in subdivision (p). The time periods established by this subdivision shall commence when the person is taken into custody as defined under subdivision (d). A person charged with a crime is entitled to the benefits of this rule whether the person is in custody in a jail or correctional institution of this state or a political subdivision thereof or is at liberty on bail or recognizance or other pretrial release condition. This subdivision shall cease to apply whenever a person files a valid demand for speedy trial under subdivision (b)."
In general, the right to a speedy trial will start the moment a person is arrested. But the rule tells us that the "appropriate remedy" is set forth in "subdivision (p)." If the 175 days have passed and the trial has not started, then before a defendant can try to get their case dismissed, the defense must first file a Notice of Expiration of Speedy Trial.
After that Notice of Expiration is filed, the State gets a 15 day recapture period. The court has a hearing to determine whether there has been a previous waiver of speedy trial or if there have been any valid time extensions. If not, the prosecution has an extra 15 days to try and start the trial. If the trial does not start within the 15 day recapture period then the defendant would be entitled to a dismissal of the charges.
It's obviously a bit technical on the time frame. While it is unlikely that a case will be dismissed on speedy trial grounds, it is also very important to make sure that you have an attorney who won't waste any time and preserve all of the defenses available to you.
In the mean time, please keep sending in these great questions!