Violating the Right to Speedy Trial Releases Defendants Convicted of Violent Offenses
Appellate Docket No.: A-2850-19T6
Decided and July 7, 2020
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent published decision, the Appellate Division reviewed whether the State’s unreasonable delay in discovery was enough to release defendants convicted of violent offenses on the grounds that their speedy trial detention deadlines were expired.
In State v. Williams, defendants were charged with numerous violent crimes arising out of gang-related activities, including attempted murder, armed robbery, and related weapons offenses. The defendants were initially detained following their Public Safety Assessment (PSA) scores posing them a risk of failure to appear and new criminal activity, as well as the additional risk of committing violent crime.
The defendants were then separately indicted for first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2; three counts of first-degree attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1); second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b); and three counts of second-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a)(1) and (a)(2).
Following exchanges of discovery and several motions, including motions to suppress, the defendants made a motion to terminate their pretrial detention. The Court granted this motion over the State’s objection, but set strict conditions on Level III (the highest level) pretrial monitoring. The Court explained that the State’s repeated failure to comply with the Court’s discovery orders caused an unreasonable delay and an expiration of the defendants’ speedy trial deadlines.
The State appealed the Court’s release of the two defendants. The Appellate Division affirmed, ruling that under the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA), a defendant cannot be detained for more than 90 days before the return of an indictment, or more than 180 days after indictment and the start of trial, subject to reasonable delays. However, the Appellate Division agreed that the State caused an unreasonable delay in failure to produce discovery, causing the expiration of the deadline for release under CJRA.
Defendants have a variety of different rights under the CJRA. There are also requirements that the State must meet, otherwise consequences such as the situation above could occur.
If you have been charged with any serious crime including but not limited to murder, homicide, sexual assault, sexual battery, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual battery, burglary, or any felony / indictable offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Failing to hire a defense attorney and putting your faith in a public defender could give you the same result as the defendants in this case!
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court and municipal court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to ensure prosecutors, police, and even judges follow the law.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us immediately. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties.