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Name: Craft v. Superior Court
Case #: G036155
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/30/2006

The state constitutional speedy trial right protects against prolonged incarceration, even when the defendant’s ability to defend against the charges has not been affected. At the preliminary hearing, the trial court suspended the proceedings based on defendant’s incompetence and ordered him committed to a state hospital. However, defendant remained in jail for 17 months because the trial court forgot to issue the commitment and transportation order. Defense counsel filed a motion to dismiss based on the denial of a speedy trial. The trial court denied the motion without requiring the prosecutor to justify the delay because it found no prejudice to defendant. The Court of Appeal held there was no substantial evidence to support the trial court’s finding that defendant suffered no prejudice from the 17-month delay. The state constitutional right to a speedy trial serves a three-fold purpose, one of which is to protect an accused against prolonged imprisonment. Whereas here, the defendant languished in jail for 17 months without receiving treatment for the mental condition supposedly justifying his differential treatment, the result can only be prejudicial. The court remanded for a new hearing at which the prosecutor could offer an explanation, if any, justifying the prolonged confinement.