There are two types of speedy trial rights a defendant has when appearing in court in Ohio. First, there are the statutory speedy trial rights, granted under the Ohio Revised Code. Second, are the constitutional speedy trial rights guaranteed by the Ohio Constitution and the United States Constitution. Both types of speedy trial provisions generally protect a defendant from having charges pending in perpetuity by allowing the defendant to force the State to pursue or dismiss their case.
Ohio’s statutory speedy trial rights can be found in O.R.C. 2945.71 and O.R.C. 2941.401. These statutes provide periods of time within which a defendant must be brought to trial. The seriousness of the offense determines how quickly the case must be brought into court, ranging from 30 days for minor misdemeanors up to 275 days for felonies. For statutory speedy trial purposes, the highest level offense for which a defendant is charged determines the time period.
Constitutional speedy trial rights are distinct from statutory speedy trial rights. In general, constitutional violations are determined on a case-by-case basis. The analysis generally involves a determination of the amount of delay between arrest or summons and trial, and the reasons for the delay. As time goes by, prejudice is presumed and the reason for the delay must show reasonable diligence on the State’s part in pursuing the charge. Additionally, constitutional violations have been found based on preindictment delay.
Winning a case on speedy trial grounds is not as simple as counting days. There are numerous ways the right to a speedy trial can be waived. Generally, delays caused by actions of a defendant toll the speedy trial time. These can include motions filed by the defense, time when a defendant is seeking an attorney, time within which a defendant absconds from the jurisdiction, and time when the defendant voluntarily waives the speedy trial right.
Speedy trial provisions are complex in practice. Retaining an effective attorney when charged is the best way to ascertain when to assert and/or waive your speedy trial rights.