Interstate Agreement on Detainers

A Look at the law of Interstate Agreement on Detainers

Many times defendants will mail our firm letter from jail seeking assistance with their criminal cases. And, many times, those requests have to deal with what they perceive are unnecessary delays in their cases by their current attorneys and/or the state of Indiana by and through the prosecutors office. Equally as often, our firm receives hundreds of calls a month from family members looking to get their loved ones currently in custody/jail to trial quickly. While many call hoping this is a possibility, many don’t realize there actually is a mechanism to force a “quicker” and final disposition of their case. The operative word there being “quick.” And while there are multiple mechanisms to force a quick trial, see our blog on speedy trials, this blog is going to focus on Interstate Agreements on Detainers — a fancy phrase for when their are two criminal matters for one defendant in separate states, and the defendant is currently serving an executed sentences on one of them.

Whenever a person has entered up on a term of imprisonment in a correctional institution of one state, and during that term of that imprisonment there is a pending untried complaint in another state or jurisdiction, the prisoner shall be brought to trial within 180 days after he requests a final disposition. The important thing to remember is that while that 180 day window may seem enticing, because if it isn’t met the defendant’s pending case in the other state must be dismissed (with prejudice, too!), the defendant has to formally request it first! It doesn’t happen by operation of law automatically.

So how does the clock start? There must be a formal request, called a Request for Final Disposition, made to the court, served upon the prosecutor, and it must reference the appropriate official housing the defendant. It must also list the time already served, the time remaining to be served, and must address pertinent facts about the case the defendant is currently be held on by way of conviction. Importantly, and as a means of strategy, a defendant must realize that any request for final disposition which is served to the court is deemed a waiver of extradition. In other words, once that formal request is made, if the receiving state wants to come get you to try you, they can…and you can’t stop them. Once the defendant is transported to the receiving state, assuming that occurs, the state then has 120 days to commence trial.

What’s important about Interstate Agreements on Detainers is that the burden is not on the state. They can leave charges pending for as long as necessary. Why? Because failing to appear for court because you were convicted in on another matter is NOT an excuse to miss court. Therefore, the court can issue a warrant for their arrest…thus tolling the requirement that they be charged within one year of charges being filed (or Criminal Rule 4).

So, in conclusion, if you or a loved one are facing a situation where the Interstate Agreement on Detainers is applicable, it’s important that you hire a firm that knows how to handle these types of situations. There can be a real trial advantage to forcing the state to try you quickly, but there can also be pitfalls if you don’t know what you are looking for. Therefore, if you or a loved one have any questions pertaining to this topic, give the experienced Indianapolis criminal attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC a call today at 317.870.0019. We are available 24/7/365 by phone or by email at info@banksbrower.com.

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