One of the biggest challenges occurring during this crisis is the confusion with the courts. Cases are postponed. The public is being denied entry. Officers are giving out tickets to go to court at some unknown time in the future. Often times no ticket is given and a person is told something will be mailed. What about all those blood draws for DUI investigations? What about all those investigations that happened months before this crisis began? What is a person supposed to do while facing the ongoing possibility of being charged with a crime? Life is hard enough already and no one needs the added anxiety of lingering criminal charges.
Perhaps you are one of the many individuals currently facing the possibility of criminal charges. Under normal circumstances, the law takes your livelihood under consideration. If you are facing a misdemeanor DUI, the prosecutor must file the charge within one year. The same goes for any other misdemeanor such as disorderly conduct and most domestic violence situations. If you are given a court date, in most cases you have a right to a speedy trial and finality to your case within 180 days of that first court date.
But these are not normal times. The Arizona Supreme Court has suspended the time limits regarding when your case needs to be prosecuted by. As of today, the suspension ends June 1 but it has already been extended, and could be extended again.
You may be ready to get your life back on track. You may have been ready to prove your innocence. You deserved finality. You need to resume your career advancement and lingering criminal charges should not be held over you. Unfortunately, that is not the way the prosecutors are seeing it. They may be working at home but you better believe they are taking full advantage of this extra time to prosecute cases to the full extent possible once court resumes.
It is my belief that the coming battle will involve the statute of limitations. Perhaps your case was pending before this crisis began and the one year is now up. Should a prosecutor also get more time to file the case against you? What if the blood result took longer than normal and it is now more than a year? Should the current crisis be a good enough excuse for an extension?
The answer in my opinion is a resounding no and I have already begun researching defenses to any argument for an extension. The prosecutor is not the only party that has rights which need to be considered. You have a 6th Amendment right to a speedy trial and are entitled to due process under both the Arizona and United States constitutions. The ways you have been affected during this crisis need to be considered as well. The Arizona Supreme Court may have paused any cases already filed but modifying the statute of limitations is completely different. If the prosecutor chooses to neglect your case for more than a year then you deserve the same finality you would have had before this crisis.
When you hire an attorney, you need someone who will fight for your rights on all fronts. If the prosecutor neglected to prosecute you, your case should be dismissed. Why should the prosecutor be the only one to benefit from this crisis? You deserve that dismissal after all you have just gone through and it will be my job to show this to the judge.
Even before this crisis, enforcing the right to a speedy trial is one of the many ways I have obtained dismissals. I don’t plan to stop now simply because the prosecutor was affected by this crisis. I will focus their attention back on you as a person and not a case file. Prosecutors need to think about how you were affected when determining how to proceed. I am eager and ready to start attacking what undoubtedly will be the newest excuse for delayed prosecutions.