Like all criminal defendants, people charged with DUI crimes have the right to a speedy trial. Among other things, the right to a speedy trial aims to prevent the spoliation of potentially exculpatory evidence. Even if critical evidence is lost during a delay in bringing a defendant to trial, though, it does not necessarily mean that the charges against the defendant should be dismissed. This was illustrated recently in a DUI case arising out of Oregon, in which the court found that the delay in question was unreasonable but ultimately not the cause of the destruction of evidence. If you are accused of commiting a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to confer with an Illinois DUI defense lawyer about your possible defenses.
The Oregon Case
It is reported that the defendant was arrested, booked, and charged by the state for DUI, which was classified as a misdemeanor offense. Five days after he was charged, the prosecutor dismissed the charges against him so that it could investigate whether he had any other DUI convictions that would increase the DUI to a felony.
Allegedly, the defendant was indicted on a felony DUI charge six weeks later. By then, the video taken from the jail on the night of the defendant’s arrest and booking had been overwritten. The defendant moved for dismissal of the charges against him, arguing that the video may have contained evidence in his favor and his inability to use the video was prejudicial. The court denied his motion, and he appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed the decision on the grounds that, while the absence of the video may have been prejudicial, the defendant failed to show that the destruction of the video was caused by the prosecution’s delays. Continue reading →