The Court of Appeals of Georgia recently ruled that an eight year delay between the time of a defendant’s arrest date and trial date was presumptively prejudicial. The court went on to find that the state failed to rebut this presumption, and upheld the trial court’s dismissal of charges based on the right to a speedy trial.
In State v. Porter, the defendant, Porter, was arrested for allegedly molesting his child in 2000. He was indicted in 2001 and released on bond. New allegations arose in 2004 that he had molested his other child, and the trial judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest in 2005 for failing to appear on those charges. He was arrested in 2006 and a second indictment was issued against him for the new allegations. In 2006, the state moved to set a trial date for both cases. In 2008, the trial judge recused herself, and the case was transferred and set for trial in December 2008. The defendant then moved the court twice for continuances followed by a motion to dismiss or plea in bar for violation of his right to a speedy trial. The trial judge agreed and dismissed the 2001 charges. The state appealed the ruling.
The Sixth Amendment and the Georgia Constitution promise criminal defendant’s the right to a speedy trial. The courts use a two part test to determine if a violation of this right has taken place. First, the court will look to see if the time between arrest and trial is presumptively prejudicial. Here, eight years had passed from arrest to trial, and the court found this to be presumptively prejudicial. Second, the court will look to see if the delay was uncommonly long, who was responsible for the delay, the timeliness of the defendant’s assertion of his right to a speedy trial, and prejudice to the defendant. The court found that nearly 7 years of the delay was the government’s fault, and that the state failed to rebut the actual prejudice suffered by Porter. The court found this to be true even though Porter didn’t raise his right to a speedy trial until 2009.
Our criminal defense attorneys have also won dismissals in numerous child molestation cases in many parts of Georgia. It is important to understand that a conviction for child molestation can severely impact the rest of a person’s life through long periods of incarceration and having to register as a sex offender once released. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney early on is often critical to winning these cases, since an investigation into a molestation case is multifaceted. Among the many steps in an investigation, a criminal defense attorney will look for inconsistencies in the statements made by the alleged victim, hire medical or psychological experts to give testimony on what events took place, and examine the context of each case in order to determine if the child was coerced by a third party.
Pate & Brody is an accomplished Georgia law firm with offices in Atlanta, Macon and Madison. Our lawyers are dedicated to pursuing justice for people charged with serious crimes. We have successfully represented clients facing serious federal criminal charges and state criminal charges in courts across Georgia. Our lawyers have been recognized on the list of Georgia’s “Super Lawyers”, and included among Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend Magazine. Page Pate was recently the Chairman of the Criminal Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association.