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12- to 13-month charging delay did not violate Sixth Amendment speedy trial guarantee

State v. Brian C. Beahm, 2013AP1678-CR, District 4, 3/6/14; court of appeals decision (1-judge; ineligible for publication); case activity

An 12- to 13-month delay between Beahm’s arrest and the filing of OWI charges did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to speedy trial.

Whether a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial has been violated depends on: the length of the delay; the reason for the delay; the defendant’s timely assertion of the speedy-trial right; and prejudice to the defense from the delay. These factors comprise “a four-part balancing test” and the right “is not subject to bright-line determinations and must be considered based upon the totality of the circumstances that exist in any specific case.” State v. Borhegyi, 222 Wis. 2d 506, 509-10, 588 N.W.2d 89 (Ct. App. 1998).

The court assumes that the delay in the case was long enough to be “presumptively prejudicial,” Doggett v. United States, 505 U.S. 657, 652 n.1 (1992) (delay of around one year is presumptively prejudicial). (¶9). The reason for the delay was the state’s negligence (Beahm’s case was put in the wrong “pile”), which weighs in Beahm’s favor, though is not as weighty as deliberate delay. (¶11). Assertion of the right is neutral: Beahm didn’t assert the right during the delay, but he hadn’t been charged, so he had no opportunity to. (¶12). Finally, as to prejudice, Beahm points to anxiety and concern–which the court discount as unsupported (¶14)–and loss of ability to test the blood sample taken at arrest. The court rejects Beahm’s argument that under Doggett the delay of over 12 months shifts the burden to the state to rebut presumptive prejudice and concludes he did not show whether he was unable to have the sample tested during the delay or that the sample was in fact unavailable when he was finally charged. (¶¶16-21).

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