Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Georgia's Speedy Trial Demand

If you know anyone that has been involved in a criminal proceeding, you also probably know that the process can drag on for what seems like forever. Quite often, it is in a Defendant’s best interest for the case to drag on for what seems like forever. However, in certain situations, the Defendant is better served by having his or her case resolved quickly. The key to making this happen is Georgia’s Demand for Speedy Trial which can be found at O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170.

The speedy trial statute allows a defendant to file a motion that requires the state to try his case within the current “term of court” that the demand is filed or the next term thereafter. If the case is not tried within that period, then the defendant shall be absolutely discharged and acquitted of the offense charged in the indictment or accusation.

Example: Defendant is indicted for shoplifting in Douglas County. The alleged offense occurs in December. She is indicted the following March by the Grand Jury. Douglas County has two terms of court running from April to October and from October to April. Assuming the Defendant files the motion for speedy trial before the end of the current term, the case must be tried before the second Monday in October. If the case is not brought to trial, the defendant is automatically acquitted of all charges.

A defendant that demands a speedy trial must take precaution that he or she does not waive the demand. If the defendant takes affirmative actions that cause the case to be delayed, the demand is effectively waived. Such affirmative actions include a motion for continuance, not appearing for a calendar call, and challenging the jury pool.

In the right case a demand for speedy trial can be an effective tool. However, it should be undertaken only with proper consideration given to all the circumstances of the case. Proper legal counsel is essential.

If you need help, call me at 678-383-1690 or visit my website at www.napierlawllc.com. If for whatever reason I can't help you, I'll point you in the direction of someone who can.

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