I want to take a minute to discuss a defendant’s speedy trial rights under Florida law. You can read the rule, Florida Rules of Criminal procedure 3.190, for yourself.  To say it’s confusing is an understatement.

Note, the word “waive” does not appear in the rule. However, every day” across Florida, defendants waive their right to a speedy trial.

Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?  What does it even mean?

Like all good law school answers, I will begin my answer to that question with “it depends”.  

The reason the rule exists is to present a case from lingering forever, and a person from being subjected to prosecution in definitely. It places time limits on the prosecution, so that the defendant may resolve the matter and move on with life. It’s pretty much that simple.

For a misdemeanor, the state is required to bring the case to trial within 90 days from the date Everest. For felony cases, it is 175 days. What turns the clock on is the arrest; what turns it off is the jury being sworn for jury selection.  *Note: there are two times a jury sworn – once during the selection process, and again before the six or 12 people who were selected begin to hear evidence.  The second swearing of the official jurors is significant in that double jeopardy then attach it.

Why waive your right to a speedy trial? The most common answer is because it is required in order to be able to fully prepare the case. For example, there is generally no way to get a murder case ready for trial in 175 days. Another reason is that some resolutions, like pretrial intervention or a deferred prosecution agreement, can’t be completed within the speedy trial time. The defendant therefore has to waive the speedy trial guarantee in order to be able to complete the program and resolve the case.

Defendants sometimes refuse to waive the right to a speedy trial under the rule because they know the state will not be ready for trial. That is a tactical consideration. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The bottom line is that the decision to waive speedy trial really depends on the particular’s of the individual case. Defendants also should know that the decision as to whether to waive speedy trial is largely controlled by the defense attorney.  As with any aspect of the case, it is always highly advisable for the defendant client and the defense attorney to discuss all aspects of the decision to waive or not wave.