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Washington Court Discusses the Right to a Speedy Trial in a DUI Case

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2022 | DUI

The state and federal constitutions offer numerous rights and protections to criminal defendants, including the right to a speedy trial.  These apply to all Pierce County and Tacoma DUI cases.  Thus, if a criminal defendant is subjected to undue delays during the pendency of their trial, they may be able to successfully advocate for dismissal of the charges against them, regardless of the strength of the prosecution’s case. Recently, a Washington court discussed the evidence a defendant must produce to demonstrate their speedy trial rights have been violated in a matter in which the defendant was charged with DUI and other crimes. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is smart to contact a Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including driving while under the influence following a police chase. He was incarcerated during the pendency of his trial for a total of 18 months. He was subsequently convicted, after which he sought an appeal, arguing that the trial court violated his right to a speedy trial when it granted multiple continuances in spite of his objections.

The Right to a Speedy Trial

The appellate court was not persuaded by the defendant’s reasoning and rejected his appeal. The analysis the courts conduct to determine if a defendant’s speedy trial rights have been violated are largely the same under both the state and federal constitutions. Specifically, the courts employ the Barker test, which is fact-specific and depends on the unique circumstances of the case.

The Barker test requires the courts to weigh the conduct of both the defendant and the prosecution and is mindful of the fact that to some degree, delays prior to trial are both justified and inevitable. Thus, a defendant must show a delay was presumptively prejudicial before the court will examine the delay under the Barker test. If a defendant meets this threshold, the courts will look at numerous factors to determine whether the delay constitutes a violation, including how long the delay lasted, the reason for the delay, whether the defendant exerted his speedy trial rights, and if so, to what extent, and whether the delay was prejudicial to the defendant.

In the subject case, the court found that the 18 month delay was sufficient to trigger the Barker test. When it conducted the analysis, though, it found that the factors did not weigh in the defendant’s favor. Thus, it affirmed his conviction.

Confer with a Skilled Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer

People charged with DUI crimes have the same right as any other criminal defendants, including the right to a speedy trial. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer to assess your possible defenses. The skilled Washington DUI defense lawyers of The Law Offices of Smith & White can advise you of your rights and help you seek a favorable outcome in consideration of the facts of your case. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 253-363-8662 to set up a meeting.