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.
The Right to a Speedy Trial in Illinois DUI Cases
People charged with DUI crime in Illinois enjoy the Sixth Amendment right to a public and speedy trial. Notably, the Sixth Amendment neglects to define what constitutes a speedy trial; there are federal laws; however, that limit the length of time the prosecution has to bring defendants to trial. Further, Illinois enacted laws defining how much time can pass before a defendant’s speedy trial rights are violated. While the speedy trial laws were temporarily suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were reinstated in October 2021.
Pursuant to Illinois’ speedy trial law, if a defendant is in the custody of the state, they must be tried within 120 days. Defendants released on bond must be tried within 160 days. If the state fails to try DUI defendants within those time frames, the charges against them should be dismissed. Further, if a DUI defendant is facing multiple charges from a single arrest, they must be tried on all of the charges at the same time.
Talk to a Dedicated Illinois DUI Defense Attorney
People accused of DUI crimes are afforded numerous rights by state and federal law, and if such rights are violated, they may be able to obtain a dismissal of the charges against them. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is prudent to talk to an Illinois defense lawyer about your options for seeking a favorable outcome. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a dedicated DUI defense attorney who can assess the facts of your case and develop compelling arguments on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Harvatin via the form online or at 217.525.0520 to set up a conference.