Hi, Im a 37 year old female from Western wa who got a dui (blew a .105)in mid April in spokane, wa, on my way home from visiting my father in spirit lake, id. That makes it a 700 mile round trip for me to attend court. I got an attorney, and so far I've had only my arraignment, since then they've gotten a new prosecutor. My 1st pretrial was may 18th, and because they hadn't produced the dash cam evidence, that trip was only to sign off on my speedy trial, and continue till 6/29/15. I get there then to find my attorney waiting with yet another continuance for me to sign because they had a substitute prosecuror, and wasnt able to answer when i ask why. At this time the prosecutor has not so much as return any of my attorneys phone calls regarding my case. Is there any way to speed this up?
You are getting a first class lesson in why it is really important to stay out of trouble while traveling. Multiple continuances are par for the course. Your lawyer can start complaining about it and you could try to withdraw your time waiver, but these measures may not be effective. Your lawyer may also be able to get court permission to appear without you. I recently handled a DUI here in Cleveland without the defendant, who was in private rehab in California, having to appear at all.
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You technically have the right to a speedy trial. A very brief and basic understanding is that for an out-of-custody person the prosecution has roughly 90 days from the date of arraignment in which to bring the case to trial. Every time you waive this right, you are giving the prosecutor additional time in which to bring the case to trial.
It may very well be the case that the Court would grant the prosecution's motion for a continuance for various reasons; however, if you are actively waiving your right to a speedy trial, it is very hard to then say that the prosecution is taking too long.
Your attorney likely has a better handle on the specific facts of your case and you should address this issue with him or her. It is sometimes to the defense's advantage to continue a case for some time in order to prepare a defense, to allow memories to fade, or just to wear the prosecution down.
You may be misinterpreting what your attorney is telling you. 99% of the time, it is the defense attorney who requests a continuance for further investigation. Prosecutors almost never request a continuance during the pretrial stage.
You have the right to a speedy trial and nothing requires you to waive that right, but if you don't waive speedy trial, you'll need to set the case for trial. That means that negotiation may either be off the table, or you may end up negotiating a worse than than you could have if you had kept the case in pretrial negotiations. If your current attorney isn't working out, fire him/her and hire a new one.
Yes, there is a very simple way to speed it up. Stop waiving your speedy trial. Prosecutors can't get continuances outside speedy trial absent very good cause. With that said, it probably isn't the prosecutor asking for these continuances and it is actually your defense attorney because he feels there is more evidence to obtain. This is sometimes an appropriate strategy, however, you should not be waiving speedy trial so much. Overworked and sometimes lazy prosecutors need to have their feet held to the fire by the setting of a trial and refusing to just endlessly kick a case around. Only your attorney can tell you the best strategy, but you don't want to push a case down the road forever. One other consideration is that if you truly need to waive speedy trial for a strategic reason, then you can see if the court you are in will allow for you to sign such a waiver and send it to your attorney and reset pretrial without your presence. Some courts allow for this since you travel so far, others do not. Bottom line is that you need to be advised why you are doing things like waiving speedy trial in a case and decide if it's best for you. Good luck.
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