Statute of Limitations
Criminal matters in New York State are governed by a statute of limitations.
The time within which a criminal action may be brought is the statute
of limitations. Most of the time the statute of limitations refers to
the time allowed to bring a civil action however, the similar legal theory
also applies to the prosecution of a criminal offense.
Generally the more serious the crime the longer the prosecution has to
bring the charges. In the case of Class A felonies, such as Murder, there
is no limitation on when the action may be commenced.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
- Class A Felony - No time limit, CPL 30.10(2)(a)
- Other Felonies - 5 years, CPL 30.10(2)(b)
- Misdemeanor - 2 years, CPL 30.10(2)(c)
- Violations - 1 year, CPL 30.10(2)(d)
Generally after a crime is committed charges must be filed within the above
time frames. CPL 1.20(17) Speedy Trial
Usually in a criminal matter charges are filed with the Court almost immediately.
However, an accused has a right to a speedy trial once the charges are
filed with the Court. The United States Constitution (6th Amendment) and
by law in New York State require a speedy trial. The laws governing speedy
trial are some of the most complex in all criminal law however this overview
should give you a good understanding of the speedy trial laws in New York State.
These laws are litigated in every county including Westchester County,
Orange County, Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess County. In local criminal
courts such as White Plains City Court, County Court, Yonkers, Greenburgh,
Bedford, North Castle, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Goshen, New Windsor, Southeast,
Kent and other similar Courts all keep records of speedy trial time.
The right to a speedy trial is broken down into two areas a Constitutional
Speedy Trial Right and a Statutory Speedy Trial Right.
Constitutional Speedy Trial
The constitutional speedy trial looks to the length of time between the
commencement of the action against the defendant and the commencement
of trial. A due process argument may be made if an inordinate amount of
delay has occurred between stages in a criminal matter such as between
commission of the offense and arrest. This applies to all offenses.
To usually obtain dismissal of a criminal matter on constitutional speedy
trial grounds in New York State any argument must include a showing that
the accused has been prejudiced by the prosecutions failure to prosecute
the charge in question. If the delay is significant (usually a number
of years) prejudice need not be shown unless there was justification for
the delay (People v Guzman, 227 AD2d 219).
The Court will consider five factors to determine dismissal on Constitional
speedy trial grounds. Those factors include:
- The length of the delay
- The reason for the delay
- The degree of actual prejudice to the defendant
- The seriousness of the underlying charge
- The extent of any pretrial incarceration
See, People v Taranovich 37 NY2d 442 and People v Vernace 96 NY 2d 886
Statutory Speedy Trial Under CPL 30.30
CPL 30.30 the speedy trial statute requires the People announce their readiness
for trial within a certain amount of time after the action has been commenced
against the defendant. The important dates are the date of the commencement
of the action and the date on which the prosecution announces readiness
The trial does not actually have to begin but if the people do not or can
not announce readiness the case will be dismissed as a violation of the
statutory speedy trial law.
CPL 30.30 - Time Restrictions
- Felony - 6 months
- A Misdemeanor - 90 Days
- B Misdemeanor - 60 Days
- Violation &mdash - 30 days
- Traffic Infraction - N/A
There are excludable periods of time that will stop the speedy trial clock
and the prosecution will not be charged with the delay. Some of the excludable
- Reasonable period of delay attributable to other proceedingsconcerning
the defendant such as a competency proceeding, demands to produce, pre-trial
- Adjournments at the request of the defendant or consented to by the defendant.
- The defendant is absent or unavailable, such as a bench warrant or in jail
in another jurisdiction.
- Time that the defendant is without counsel.
The Best Speedy Trial Defense
The best speedy trial defense involves a calculation of time starting with
the date of the alleged crime itself and determining what time is chargeable
to the prosecution as a violation of either statutory or due process rights.
Some cases may be dismissed in court others require a written motion. A
clear understanding of the various time periods is required.