As a general rule, the State has one year from the date charges are filed, or from the date an arrest is made (whichever is later) to bring someone to trial. Rule 4 of Indiana Criminal Procedure specifies circumstances in which individuals can be released from custody and how their cases can be dismissed when a prolonged delay is attributable to the State.
Subsection (A) of Rule 4 addresses defendants in jail specifically. This portion of the rule states that “no defendant shall be detained in jail on a charge, without a trial, for a period in aggregate embracing more than six (6) months from the date the criminal charge is filed, or from the date of his arrest on such charge (whichever is later); except where a continuance was had on his motion, or the delay was caused by his act, or where there was not sufficient time to try him during such period because of congestion of the court calendar.” The aim of this subsection is to free defendants from incarceration that are awaiting trial when the defendant does not cause the delay.
Subsection (C) of Rule 4 addresses discharges, or dismissals. Rule 4(C) states that “no person shall be held on recognizance or otherwise to answer a criminal charge for a period in aggregate embracing more than one year from the date the criminal charge against such defendant is filed, or from the date of his arrest on such charge, whichever is later; except where a continuance was had on his motion, or the delay was caused by his act, or where there was not sufficient time to try him during such period because of congestion of the court calendar.” The aim of this subsection is to expediently resolve cases and to prevent criminal charges from hanging over a defendant’s head for a needlessly long period of time.
To put it simply, any delay attributable to the defendant under both aforementioned subsections of Rule 4 prolongs the one year period in which the State has to bring the case to trial. Any continuance by the defendant, clearly, is time attributable to the defendant which extends the one year period. Aside from continuances, the Supreme Court of Indiana has ruled that any act by the defendant that prolongs the case is time attributable to the defendant for purposes of Rule 4. In Isaacs v. State, the Defendant’s attorney was forced to withdraw from the case when the defendant sexually assaulted one of the attorney’s other clients. The court ruled that since the defendant’s actions caused his attorney to withdraw, the delay was chargeable to the defendant. Issacs v. State, 673 NE2d 757, 763 (Ind. 1996).
The other delay that can prolong the one year period is unfortunately out of control of the defendant. If the court has to congest the defendant’s trial so that an older case can proceed to trial, the delay due to the congestion cannot be used against the State. Similarly, any emergency that delays the trial cannot be used against the State.
It should be mentioned that the State does have an “out” so to speak under Rule 4(D). If the State files a motion to continue, citing that they have made reasonable efforts to procure evidence but have been unable to obtain it, the court may give the State an additional 90 days to bring the case to trial without the defendant being released or the case being dismissed.
Indiana Rule of Criminal Procedure 4 can be an invaluable asset to individuals facing criminal charges. The overall purpose of the rule is for criminal cases to move through the system as efficiently as possible. If you feel that the State has unfairly prolonged your case and that you are entitled to either release from custody or a dismissal of all charges, please contact the attorneys at Banks & Brower anytime by emailing email@example.com or by calling (317) 870-0019.