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What is The Right to a Speedy Trial in a DUI Case?

Posted by Richard Wagner | Oct 09, 2022

Speed Trial Rights in California

Keith Laroy Dews was arrested for DUI on January 29, 2011.

Mr. Dews appeared in court on February 14, 2011. His case was “discharged by the district attorney pending further investigation.”

After receiving a blood-alcohol-analysis report, the DA filed charges against Mr. Dews, accusing him of violating Vehicle Code sections 23152 (a), driving under the influence of alcohol, & 23152 (b), driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%, or more.

An arrest warrant was issued on July 21, 2011, but the police did not arrest Mr. Dews until February 11, 2013. His arraignment was on February 20, 2013.

On April 16, 2013, Mr. Dews filed a motion to dismiss. His motion was based on the grounds that the 19-month delay between the arrest warrant and arraignment date violated his speedy trial rights under the state and federal Constitutions.

California State Capitol

The San Francisco trial court judge denied his motion without balancing the Barker factors. (Barker v. Wingo (1972) 407 U.S. 514).

On May 17, 2013, Mr. Dews filed a petition for a writ of mandate with the appellate division of the superior court raising only the federal speedy trial issue. The appellate division denied the writ.

Mr. Dews filed a petition for a writ with the Court of Appeal, challenging the appellate division's decision.

Which Amendment Guarantees The Right To A Speedy Trial?

The Court of Appeal began its analysis by noting that,

“The Sixth Amendment guarantees, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy … trial … .” It further noted, “in Barker …. the United States Supreme Court explained that the right to a speedy trial differs from other constitutional rights in important ways. “Accordingly … any inquiry into a speedy trial claim necessitates a functional analysis of the right in the particular context of the case …”

“The court in Barker established a balancing test for evaluating a speedy trial claim under the Sixth Amendment, comprised of four factors: “… Length of delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant's assertion of his right, and prejudice to the defendant.”

“In sum, these factors have no talismanic qualities; courts must still engage in a difficult and sensitive balancing process.”

The Court of Appeal noted that Mr. Dews “urges us to dismiss the case outright, rather than sending it back to the trial court for a balancing of the Barker factors.”

The Court of Appeal went on to say that Mr. Dews's

“position derives primarily from Bellante v. Superior Court (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th Supp. 1 at pages 6–7, a decision by the Appellate Division of the Kern County Superior Court, which in turn derives from that court's reading of the state Supreme Court's decision in Serna.”

The Court of Appeal said it was,

“not persuaded by Bellante's reading of Serna, which in our view did nothing to alter the approach to federal speedy trial claims outlined in Barker.

However, the Court of Appeal ruled that Mr. Dews,

“is correct that the trial court should have expressly weighed the Barker factors, and the appellate division abused its discretion in denying his petition for writ of mandate. However, the lack of justification offered by the prosecution does not automatically entitle petitioner to dismissal.”

This opinion is found at Dews v. Superior Court (2014) 223 Cal. App. 4th 660.

If you have been arrested for DUI, contact The Law Office of Richard Wagner for a Free Consultation at 714.721.4423.

About the Author

Richard Wagner

Attorney Profile Defense Lawyer Richard Wagner upholds and defends freedoms and liberties enshrined in our United States and California Constitutions.  “Richard was able to achieve an even better outcome for my case than what we initially thought was possible. I couldn't be more grateful to h...