Speedy Trials in Florida Criminal Cases
January 6, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense Social Share
What is a Speedy Trial in Florida?
In the state of Florida, there are two types of “speedy trial” rights. The first is the right under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The second is the procedural right to a trial under the Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191.
Under Florida Statute Section 960.0015, the victim’s right to a speedy trial is exhibited by a state attorney filing a demand for a speedy trial. This demand can be made if the state has met its obligations under the rules of discovery, the charge is a felony or misdemeanor, and the court has granted at least three continuances upon the request of the defendant over the objection of the state attorney.
There is a 175-day window for a defendant to be brought to trial in the case of a felony charge. This is from the date of arrest or custody. “Arrest” can be defined as the actual arrest by a police officer, or when the defendant has received notice to appear in a trial and was not actually arrested, which can be referred to as “custody”.
There is a 90-day timeframe for misdemeanors or retrials after an appeal or mistrial (whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor). This would be considered a natural expiration of a speedy trial. Being brought to trial means that the jury has been selected for questioning in a voir dire, or jury selection.
A trial can be demanded within 60 days by a defendant, even if the 175 or 90 days have elapsed. It is required that the defendant has a “bona fide” desire for a quicker trial and needs to represent to the court that he or she has investigated the case enough to be ready for the quicker trial. If, and when, that demand has been filed, then the 90- or 175-day window will no longer apply.
After filing for a speedy trial, there is a hearing on the demand that needs to be held within a five-day period. The judge will need to make an inquiry as to the following:
- Whether there has been a previous waiver or extension of speedy trial;
- Whether the defendant has been available for all of the previous court hearings;
- Where there are any “exceptional circumstances” that would call for a further extension.
This rule would prevent a defendant from filing a demand with the sole intention of forcing the state to trial when the defendant believes the state is not prepared for the trial. Examples of this include missing witnesses, overly complex case issues, or unavailable evidence. From the time of the hearing on the demand, the case needs to be set for trial no sooner than five days and no later than 45 days.
Expiration of a Speedy Trial Period
Speedy trial rules require the State of Florida to bring a defendant in for trial within a given set of time. However, the violation of a defendant’s speedy trial rights does not automatically warrant case dismissal. After the deadline for a speedy trial expires, the defendant must resort to a recapture provision by filing a “Notice of Expiration of Speedy Trial Time.”
After this notice has been filed and served to the prosecutor, there is a 15-day window in which the trial must be held. If the defendant is unable to appear in court within the 15-day window through no fault of their own, then the defendant is entitled to have their charges dismissed.
Availability for Trial
Trial unavailability occurs when the defendant, or the defendant’s counsel, is unable to attend the proceeding in which their presence is required. It also occurs when the defendant or defense counsel is not ready or prepared on the date that the proceeding was scheduled. If the defendant is unavailable for trial during the given time, then they are ineligible for discharge. If the state objects to discharge and has evidence to prove there was nonavailability, then the accused must establish competent proof within the term of availability.
There are some exceptional circumstances within which the court will grant extensions or speed up the trial schedule. These exceptional circumstances do not include general congestion of the court’s docket, lack of preparation, failure to provide a witness, or other delays that are considered foreseeable. Exceptional circumstances must require an order by the court.
The following is a list of exceptional circumstances:
- Unexpected illnesses, unexpected incapacity, unforeseeable and unavoidable absence of a person whose presence or testimony is uniquely necessary for a full adequate trial;
- Proof by the state that the case is unusual and complex, therefore the number of defendants or the nature of the prosecution is unreasonable to expect an adequate investigation or preparation within the time frame provided by the rules;
- Proof by the state that specific evidence or testimony is not available despite diligent efforts to secure it, but will be available at a later date;
- Proof by the defendant or state that there is a necessity for delay grounded on developments that could not have been anticipated and that would affect the trial;
- Proof that it is necessary for a delay to accommodate a codefendant, if there is reason not to sever the cases to proceed with the trial of the defendant;
- Proof by the state that the defendant has caused a major delay or disruption of preparation of proceedings, by preventing the attendance of a witness or otherwise.
Waivers of a Speedy Trial
A defendant has the right to waive his or her speedy trial right. This would mean that the protection from Rule 3.191 is nullified and no longer exists. Waiver occurs when there is a failure to go to trial within the allotted time period that was given to the defendant and his or her attorney.
The following is a list of common reasons in which waiver of a speedy trial rights would occur:
- Failing to appear at the trial;
- The defendant is unable to attend the trial or hearing;
- The defendant or the counsel requests an extension of time;
- A written speedy trial waiver is signed;
- The accused caused delays regarding the proceedings;
- A request has been made for extension in order to further investigate or obtain the presence of certain witnesses;
- The accused engages in misconduct which delays proceedings;
- Agreement or selection of a trial date beyond the boundaries of the speedy trial window.
Contacting a Defense Attorney for a Speedy Trial in Tallahassee, Florida
If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, your first step should be reaching out to an attorney in your area. Finding an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case can make all the difference in the outcome. Receiving quality legal advice can help move your case as fast as possible and allow you to return back to your normal routine. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience with working with clients regarding speedy trial issues,, and have the skill and experience to assist with your case. Call (850) 681-7777 today and receive a free consultation regarding your case.
This article was written by Karissa Key