Appellate court affirms denial of defendant’s motion for release pending resolution

A defendant whose motion for a continuance delayed his trial for nearly a year was not entitled to release from jail under Criminal Rule 4(A), the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

After failing to appear at an initial hearing in March 2019, James Owens was arrested and jailed on April 12. His trial on multiple felony charges was scheduled for July, but Owens was granted a continuance in June that did not specifically reschedule his trial date. However, on the state’s motion, trial was rescheduled for May 2020 after Owens failed to communicate with the state for months.

In April 2020, Owens moved for release under Criminal Rule 4(A), arguing he had been detained more than six months. The state, however, noted the continuance was granted on Owens’ motion.

The trial court denied Owens’ motion in June 2020, and the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed on interlocutory appeal in James G. Owens v. State of Indiana, 20A-CR-1685.

“Our supreme court has explained that ‘when a defendant requests a continuance, the elapsed period between his motion for a continuance and the new trial date is generally chargeable to the defendant,’” Judge Rudolph Pyle wrote. “… Thus, the Rule 4(A) period was extended by the time that had elapsed between the date of Owens’ continuance to the new trial date.

“… Because less than six months was attributable to the Criminal Rule 4(A) period, the trial court did not err by denying Owens’ Criminal Rule 4(A) motion for release,” Pyle wrote.

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