i am not a lawyer just a curious person. recently i was in court and one of the first things they ask people to do is wave a speedy trial. my thinking is the courts are so unorganized if i say no to waving a speedy trial they will not be ready for trial and would have to throw out the case. how effect do u think this would be?
Whether to waive the right to a speedy trial turns on a number of factors; so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. For example: if Defendant knows that the key state witness is out of the country for awhile, then push for speedy. But, if Defendant needs experts to refute state evidence by having tox screens, blood work, or challenging breath tests, then it may be better to waive speedy and buy the time to let the expert develop the case. These are just two quick examples; but there are lots and lots of factors to consider before deciding on this issue.
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By not waiving speedy trial, you are essentially saying that you don't need time to investigate the case. While that may not be an issue in some circumstances, it also means you could be 'going in blind' by not knowing what some witnesses have said yet, or the results of lab tests.
Usually, the result of not waiving speedy trial is that the State Attorney's office will put your case first in front of everything, meaning that they will do everything they can to be ready for trial in time. So, usually unless there is a witness that the State has difficulty getting to the courtroom on time, there is very little chance that the State is just going to throw out the case.
It does not always work that way. If it is a drug case where it is all police witnesses, the State can often put those together rather quickly.
Whether or not to waive the right to speedy trial is largely determined by the facts of the case.
Here is the Rule:
RULE 3.191. SPEEDY TRIAL
(a) Speedy Trial without Demand. 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 felo- ny. 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 subdivi- sion 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).
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The rules of criminal procedure require the State to bring a person to trial within 90 days of an arrest for a misdemeanor and within 175 days for a felony. When you appear in court and you are within that window period, you must tell the court whether you are ready to proceed to trial on that day in which case a trial would be scheduled. That means that any unfinished "Discovery" is deemed completed if you are truly ready to go to trial. If you bluff your way and the State is ready to call their witness and put on their case, you could be at a serious disadvantage if you did not completely investigate your case. Once you complete Discovery, you can always file what is called a Demand for Speedy Trial in which case the Court must commence your trial within 50 days.
It is always risky trying to 'bluff' saying that you are ready for trial if, in reality, you are not. Keep in mind the 15-day 'recapture window' that gives the state those extra 15 days after the time expires. If a case involves mostly police (for example, a narcotics case) the state can get their witnesses to court pretty quickly. But, if it is a case relying on civilians, or out-of-state civilians, it may not be so easy for the state to get their witnesses to trial in time.
Mr. Fasone's answer below is a solid, well-reasoned answer.
Also, watch the state's discovery exhibit - the state is required to provide it to the defense within 15 days of the arraignment. If it arrives late, a judge could rule that the continuance is charged to the state and prevent having to waive one's speedy trial rights.
For a while, one Broward judge was setting trial ONE WEEK after arraignment and asked every defendant if they were "waiving speedy trial?" I outed the judge on a local blog - and the policy stopped. But we have to be persistent in protecting our rights!
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