What is a Speedy Trial in Florida Criminal Courts?

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30th Jul 2018

There are two types of  speedy trial rights in Florida;

  • The constitutional right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment of the United State Constitution, and
  • The procedural right to a speedy trial under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191.

This General Article Focuses On Florida’s Procedural Rule.

For a felony, a defendant has the right to be brought to trial within 175 days from the date of arrest or custody.  The time frame is shortened to 90 days for misdemeanors or retrials after an appeal or mistrial (whether felony or misdemeanor).  This is what is known as the “natural expiration” of speedy trial.  “Brought to trial” means that the jury is selected for questioning in jury selection (also known as voir dire).

“Arrest” is defined as actual arrest, or when a defendant is given a notice to appear on the street and not actually arrested.  The rule also refers to it is as “custody”.

A person accused can demand a trial that must occur within 60 days, whether or not the 175 or 90 days have elapsed.  With such a demand , the requester has to have a “bonafide” desire for that speedy trial and also represent to the court that there is indeed a readiness for trial.

If that demand is filed, then the 175-day or 90-day provisions cease to apply.

A defendant can waive her or her right to a speedy trial, such as when it takes longer to prepare a defense than just 175 or 90 days.

Another instance is when there are competency issues or DNA testing that is taking a while to prepare.  In those circumstances, the speedy trial time can be extended.

Even after having waived the right to a speedy trial, a defendant can start the clock again.  Under the rule, once a demand for a speedy trial is filed after a waiver, the state has 60 days in which to bring the defendant to trial.

Upon filing a demand for a speedy trial, a hearing on the demand is held within five days.  At that time, the judge has to make an inquiry as to whether the demand is genuine

From the time of the hearing on the demand, the case is set for trial no sooner than five days and no later than 45 days (which should be no later than 50 days from the date the demand was filed).

If after 50 days from the date of the demand, if the defendant has not been brought to trial, the defendant may file a “Notice of Expiration of Speedy Trial”.  This is true if the original 175 or 90 days have naturally expired without a waiver or extension.  When the Notice of Expiration is filed, a hearing is held within five days, and the matter is set for trial within 10 days.  This “recapture period” gives the state one last bite at the apple.

If the defendant is not brought to trial within those 10 days, the defendant is entitled to a discharge and the case is forever dismissed.

Prosecutors are not allowed to dismiss a charge to avoid a speedy trial issue and then re-file the same charges later.