WHAT ARE SPEEDY TRIAL RIGHTS AND HOW LONG BEFORE YOUR RIGHT IS VIOLATED?
The Court of Appeals in Ohio recently held that a conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI) should be thrown out because the state failed to hold a trial within the time limits expressly stated in the United States and Ohio constitutions. State v. Martin, 2017-Ohio-7453
In Martin, the Defendant was arrested for OVI in November of 2015. Due to several factors, including a serious illness of the Defendant’s attorney, the case was continued several times to June of 2016 before the Defendant’s original attorney was forced to withdraw because of his illness. The Defendant obtained a new counsel who filed a motion to dismiss because the Defendant’s right to a speedy trial was violated. The court denied the Defendant’s motion and she was found guilty of OVI. The Defendant appealed her conviction.
SPEEDY TRIAL RIGHTS IN OVI CASES
As stated above, the right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the United States and Ohio constitutions. And courts of appeals, when determining if a defendant’s right to a speedy trial has been violated, must “strictly construe the relevant statutes against the state.” Brecksville v. Cook, 75 Ohio St.3d 53, 57 (1996). Additionally, the court of appeals must look at each delay in the case and determine whether each delay was caused by the defendant, or caused by the state. State v. Blumensaadt, 11th Dist. Lake No. 2000-L-107
In cases where the defendant is being charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree, the case must be brought to trial within 90 days in order to adhere to the requirements of a speedy trial.
In Martin, the Defendant was charged with an OVI. In Ohio, OVIs are considered first-degree misdemeanors and so the trial court was required to hold a trial for the defendant before 90 days had elapsed.
DOCUMENTING SPEEDY TRIAL TIME IN AN OVI CASE
When determining whether the state has exceeded the time limit of a speedy trial, the Supreme Court of Ohio has said that it is up to the trial court to note on the journal entries of each case who is requesting continuances. State v. Siler, 57 Ohio St.2d 1, 2. Continuances requested by the Defendant will not count against the speedy trial limit, but continuances requested by the state will count against the limit.
If a trial court fails to document in its journal entries who requested a continuance of a case, the Court of Appeals must count the days that are not accounted for against the state. State v. Geraldo, 13 Ohio App.3d 27, 30-31 (6th Dist.1983) and Brecksville v. Cook, 75 Ohio St.3d 53, 57 (1996)
In Martin, The Defendant waited 22 days from the date of her arrest before her first court appearance, which would count those 22 days against the speedy trial limit. In addition, 90 additional days were also counted against the speedy trial limit, as the trial court was unable to show in its entries who the continuance was attributed to. The 90 days would therefore be added to the 22 days.
The Defendant was charged with OVI, and did not waive her right to a speedy trial at any point in the case. She was therefore entitled to have her case heard within 90 days. Since the trial court had 112 days of delay attributed to it against the speedy trial time limit, the Court of Appeals found that the Defendant’s right to a speedy trial had been violated and vacated her conviction for OVI.
OVI and Alcohol related offenses vary from case to case and there can be difficulty understanding what defenses may be available to you. It is important to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable about all possible defenses available to you, including whether your right to a speedy trial is in jeopardy. If you have questions about your Columbus OVI charges, talk to our defense attorneys at 614-361-2804.