Divided COA: Court erred in dismissing charges after 1 year

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the State of Indiana to reverse a trial court decision dismissing charges against a Warrick County man.

On April 6, 2016 Nicholas Lindauer was charged with operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent (ACE) of .08 or more, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. During his hearing on April 25, 2016, Lindauer waived the formal reading of the charges and requested the trial court authorize a specialized driving permit.

After the Warrick Circuit Court’s grant of Lindeaur’s request, progress hearings for the case were pushed back several times over the next year per Lindauer’s motion.

On April 13, 2017, Lindauer filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C). He conceded that at least 56 days were attributable to him, but that he should have been brought to trial prior to June 2, 2017. On August 23, 2017, the trial court summarily granted Lindauer’s motion and dismissed the cause.

The state argued that the trial court erred by dismissing the cause, and the COA agreed. The court found that while the state has an affirmative duty to bring a defendant to trial within one year, if a defendant takes action that delays the proceeding, “that time is chargeable to the defendant and extends the one-year time limit, regardless of whether a trial date has been set at the time or not.

“Using the date the charges were filed against Lindauer, the Criminal Rule 4(C) time period began to run on April 6, 2016,” Judge Melissa May wrote Wednesday in State of Indiana v. Nicolas Lindauer, 87A05-1709-CR-2137. “Barring any delay extending the time, the State was required to bring Lindauer to trial by April 5, 2017.”

However, the court determined that every extension of time that occurred between June 23, 2016, and April 10, 2017, occurred because of requests made by Lindauer.

“A defendant cannot habitually move to reset the preliminary hearing at which the trial date was to be set and then assert a meritorious claim that his right to trial within a year was violated,” May continued.

The court concluded the trial court committed clear error when it granted Lindauer’s motion to dismiss and reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

Judge Patricia Riley dissented with a separate opinion, arguing that for the majority of the continuances, the parties were engaged in ongoing plea negotiations.

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