Defendant Must Assert Right to Speedy Trial Before Actual Trial - Criminal Law - DC Circuit
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Defendant Must Assert Right to Speedy Trial Before Actual Trial

Tyrone Hines was convicted of one count of bank robbery and two counts of attempted bank robbery. He challenged his conviction on the grounds that the district court erred in extending the 30-day deadline for indictment following arrest under the Speedy Trial Act (STA).

Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Hines' conviction.

Hines was arrested on March 9, 2010 and charged in a criminal complaint with attempted robbery of a BB&T Bank branch in Washington, D.C. A magistrate judge denied Hines’ motion for release from custody and committed him to government custody, concluding there were “no conditions that [he] could set that would reasonably assure [Hines’] appearance or that he would not commit new crimes if released, and he should be detained pending trial.”

On April 7 and May 4, a magistrate judge granted joint motions filed by Hines’ then-counsel and the government seeking two separate, successive 30-day “interests-of-justice” continuances to be excluded from the STA calendar. The stated purposes of the exclusion motions were to allow ongoing plea negotiations to continue and to provide an opportunity to complete a mental health evaluation. On June 21, the government moved to exclude from the STA calendar the period from June 26 to July 7 to make up for the delay from Hines changing counsel.

Under the STA, the government must indict a defendant within 30 days after his arrest, and try him within 70 days after the indictment. There’s an exception to that policy for a pre-trial detainee like Hines: A pre-trial detainee must be tried within 90 days after he is first detained, subject to the exclusion of “periods of delay” under the STA calendar. (The STA provides that delays from continuances granted in the interests of justice outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.)

Hines’ criminal trial began on October 26, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts on October 28.

On appeal, Hines argued that the district court should have dismissed the indictment sua sponte because he was not indicted within 30 days after his arrest as required under the STA. In particular, he argued that the two 30-day continuances the court ordered when it granted the joint motions by Hines and the government were improperly subtracted because the court did not set out adequate reasons in the record for its finding that the continuances served the interests of justice.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that Hines waived his right to seek dismissal based on an untimely indictment because he failed to move to dismiss the indictment before the trial commenced.

Let this be a lesson to you: If you don’t move for indictment dismissal before the trial begins, you waive the appeal.

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