Florida Court Discusses the Right to a Speedy Trial in a Sexual Battery Case

One of the many rights afforded criminal defendants by State and Federal law is the right to a speedy trial. In other words, a defendant cannot be arrested and then detained for an unreasonable amount of time prior to being tried, and if a defendant’s right to a speedy trial is violated, the charges against the defendant may be dismissed. In a recent case in which a defendant was charged with sexual battery, a Florida appellate court discussed the factors weighed in determining when an arrest occurred to determine whether the State violated a defendant’s right to a speedy trial. If you are charged with sexual battery or a related offense in St. Petersburg, it is in your best interest to speak to a capable St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney regarding your rights.

Factual Background

It is reported that a woman was sexually assaulted while running in a park in September 2017. Immediately after the incident, the woman advised her husband that the defendant was the assailant, and the husband detained the defendant until the police arrived. Upon arrival, the police questioned the defendant, read him his Miranda warnings, and took him to the police station where he was held in a cell. Additionally, DNA samples were taken from the defendant. The defendant was ultimately released and was formally arrested and charged with sexual battery in November 2018. The defendant then moved to have the charge dismissed, arguing that he was not charged within 175 days of his arrest as required by Florida’s speedy trial law. The court agreed and dismissed the charge, after which the State appealed.

Determining When an Arrest Occurred

Under Florida’s speedy trial law, a defendant must be charged within 175 days of his or her arrest. On appeal, the court noted that a person could be taken into custody for purposes of requiring a Miranda warning, but not for purposes of triggering the speedy trial rule. Rather, for purposes of evaluating if a person was arrested prior to a formal arrest, the court must conduct a four-part test. Specifically, the court must find that the purpose of the authority was to effect an arrest, the defendant was seized, the police officer communicated an intent to effect an arrest to the defendant, and the defendant believes the officer is there to detain and arrest him.

In the subject case, the court found that the third and fourth elements were not met. Specifically, the police never communicated to the defendant that he was under arrest, and there was no evidence that the defendant subjectively understood that he was under arrest. As such, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are charged with a crime of a sexual nature, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to discuss what penalties you may face if you are convicted. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a criminal defense attorney who is proficient at defending people charged with sex crimes, and he will zealously pursue the most favorable outcome possible under the circumstances. You can contact Mr. Hanlon via the form online or at 727-897-5413 to schedule a meeting.

Contact Information