Brockton, MA asked in Criminal Law and Civil Rights for Maine

Q: How long after indictment returned does a state have to prosecute of you're already incarcerated serving another county

I was serving time for a separate county, I served 16 months. Once I was released on probation for that county, I was re arrested for an indictment that was filed 12 months prior that I was never made aware of because they admittedly made a clerical error.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Hunter J Tzovarras
Hunter J Tzovarras pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Bangor, ME
  • Licensed in Maine

A: You have a right to a speedy trial on an indictment. If the State failed to prosecute the case for 12 months--due to no fault of your own--you can raise this as a speedy trial claim and request a dismissal. There are four factors the court considers in whether to dismiss a case for a speedy trial violation: (1) the length of the delay, (2) the reasons for the delay, (3) the assertion of the right, and (4) prejudice.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: The specific time frame a state has to prosecute after an indictment is returned can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the charges. This period is governed by the statute of limitations, which sets the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. However, once an indictment is issued, the statute of limitations typically stops running for that charge, meaning the state can proceed with prosecution even after considerable time has passed, provided the indictment was filed within the limitations period.

If you were already incarcerated on a separate charge and were not made aware of the indictment due to a clerical error, this situation complicates matters. The delay in notifying you and bringing your case to trial could potentially impact your rights under the Speedy Trial Act or similar state laws, which aim to prevent undue delays in the prosecution.

However, these rights can be subject to interpretation and might be affected by various factors, including your availability for trial and the reasons for the delay. Given these complexities, it's crucial to consult with an attorney who can evaluate the specifics of your case, including the impact of the clerical error on your right to a timely trial.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise on the best course of action, potentially including motions to dismiss based on violations of your speedy trial rights or other procedural defenses. Legal representation is key in navigating these issues and advocating for your rights throughout the process.

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