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Justices toss driving convictions due to delays

April 28, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled a man who was convicted of four driving offenses should have his case dismissed because the prosecution did not bring him to trial in time.

Travis Allen was charged with four counts, two related to driving while intoxicated and two to driving without a license. He was arrested on Dec. 9, 2011, but his trial did not take place until Oct. 8, 2014.

Allen said he’s entitled to discharge under Indiana Rule of Criminal Procedure 4(C), which says a defendant may not be held to answer a criminal charge for a period of time greater than one year, except where a continuance was had on his motion or the delay was caused by his act.

Allen delayed the case in early 2012 for 116 days and the state says another 142 days in the middle of 2012 should also be attributed to him. At his pre-trial hearing in October of 2012, Allen notified the trial court he entered a guilty plea in another court and was ordered to serve a 10-year sentence. Allen’s trial was set for January 2013, still within the one-year time frame thanks to defendant delays, but the Allen was not present on the day of the trial.

The state claims it was the defense’s fault that Allen wasn’t there, as they should have prepared the transfer order. The defendant claims that because he was incarcerated, any resulting delay should not be attributed to him.

Retiring Justice Brent Dickson, who wrote the decision in this case, said it didn’t matter either way. If Allen’s failure to appear is not counted as delay, his trial was not held within the time period prescribed by Rule 4(C).

If the defendant’s non-appearance is attributed to him, the state and the trial court had time to reschedule him, but didn’t take any action on the case for 518 days, well past the one-year time limit.

Allen filed a motion to dismiss in April of 2014, and on June 25, 2014 the trial court denied his dismissal request and set a date for a new trial. However, this was already after Allen’s one-year deadline. The Supreme Court ordered the trial court’s decision reversed and the motion for discharge granted.

The case is Travis Allen v. State of Indiana, 49S05-1601-CR-46.

 

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