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SPEEDY TRIAL DEMAND: Criminal lawyer demands speedy trial.

June 11, 2012

Illinois law provides that every person on bail or a personal recognizance bond (also known as an “I bond”) shall be tried by the court having jurisdiction within 160 days from the date defendant demands trial unless delay is occasioned by the defendant. The defendant’s failure to appear for any court date set by the court operates to waive the defendant’s demand for trial made under this subsection.” 725 ILCS 5/103-5(b). This issue was recently clarified in People v. Kohler, 2012 IL App (2d) 100513 (No. 2-10-0513, 4/12/12) a case involving a defendant who appeared at a bond hearing after he was arrested on a warrant issued due to his failure to appear at a court date. The court ordered defendant released from custody on a personal recognizance bond and his Illinois criminal attorney filed a demand for speedy trial. The Court held that defendant’s speedy-trial demand on the date of the bond hearing was not premature on the theory that he was in custody at the time at the time that the demand was made by his criminal lawyer. Unlike People v. Garrett, 136 Ill. 2d 318, 555 N.E.2d 1136 (1990), where the court concluded that a speedy-trial demand made about two months before defendant’s release from custody did not serve to commence the 160-day statutory term for a defendant released on bail or recognizance, defendant’s demand was made on the same day as his release. Once the court ordered that the defendant be released on recognizance, he was restored to liberty, the only remaining restriction on his liberty being that he attend court hearings.

In the Kohler case, the defendant’s criminal attorney properly served the speedy-trial demand on the assistant State’s Attorney who appeared at the bond hearing, even though the arresting officer designated the Village of Long Grove as the charging entity on the citation and the Village attorney ultimately prosecuted the case.

The defendant’s absence from a subsequent court date due to his illness was not a failure to appear that waived his speedy-trial demand under the statute. Although defendant was not personally present, his criminal lawyer appeared for him and explained defendant’s inability to attend the hearing due to illness. The prosecutor had been informed that defendant was ill and the court granted the motion for continuance without any objection from the prosecution. The defendant’s absence did not result in the issuance of a bond-forfeiture warrant. This was not a failure to appear, but an absence and the grant of a motion to continue, which was a delay attributable to the defendant, but not a waiver of his demand. The Appellate Court also noted the inconsistency in the prosecution’s argument that the absence due to illness amounted to a waiver of the speedy trial demand, while ignoring defendant’s absence on another court date at which the court had waived his appearance, although the trial court had treated both absences in the same manner. Because the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion to dismiss on statutory speedy-trial grounds, the Appellate Court vacated defendant’s convictions.

To fight your case on similar grounds, contact John McNamara today.