Los Angeles DUI Speedy Trial (Serna) Motions
For most driving under the influence cases, the prosecutor has a year from the date of offense to file charges. This one year statute of limitations prevents prosecutors from filing misdemeanor DUI cases once a year has passed. However, there may be cases where a prosecutor has filed timely charges but the defendant was never informed of his or her arraignment date and never appeared in court. Many years may pass before a defendant learns that he or she has active criminal charges or even an active warrant. In these cases, the defendant’s speedy trial rights may have been violated and the defense may be able to have the case dismissed.
In most DUI arrests, the driver will be provided a notice to appear in court on a certain date for his or her arraignment hearing. In many cases, the prosecutor may not file criminal charges by the arraignment date stated on the defendant’s notice to appear. The law enforcement agency may not have submitted the case in time or the prosecutor may send it back for further investigation. If the driver selected a blood test, the results may still be pending by the stated arraignment date.
Even if the prosecutor does not file charges by the initial due date, the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor DUI is one year and the prosecution can file at any time during this year. The prosecutor may file charges and will typically send the defendant a notice of the new court date or warrant. However, in many cases the prosecution or law enforcement agency responsible will not send a letter to the defendant or the letter may be sent to an incorrect or out of date address. The defendant may have no idea that a case has been filed. Even where a warrant is issued, the defendant may still be unaware of a criminal filing as these warrants are not considered high priority by law enforcement.
The defendant may learn of the active case years later. The defense would first have any warrant cleared and then can file what is known as a Serna motion claiming that the defendant’s speedy trial rights have been violated and therefore the charges must be dismissed. When deciding a Serna motion, the Court will consider the four factors outlined in the Barker v. Wingo decision.
The Court will consider the length of the delay. Longer delays typically favor the defense in speedy trial motions. The Court will also consider the reason for the delay. If the delay was caused by the defendant’s own actions and he or she knew about the charges, the Court will be unlikely to grant the motion. However, if the delay was caused by the prosecution’s inability to notify the defendant, the Court will weigh this delay in favor of the defense.
The Court will see if the defendant ever had a chance to assert his or her right to a speedy trial. The Court will also consider whether the delay has caused prejudice to the defense. This factor is very important and long delays can be extremely prejudicial to the defense.
If you believe that you have an old DUI case or warrant that was never handled, it is critical that you meet with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer right away. Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who has successfully litigated speedy trial challenges on behalf of his clients and is adept at handling these types of motions.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI speedy trial (Serna) motions, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.