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Name: People v. Benhoor
Case #: B212593
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 09/24/2009

After trial by written declaration, delay in setting new trial beyond statutory limit did not require dismissal of action. Benhoor was found guilty on December 11, 2007, of a Vehicle Code infraction following a trial by written declaration pursuant to Vehicle Code section 40902, subd. (a)(1). He timely filed a written request for a trial de novo which was received by the clerk on December 21, 2007. His request was granted and the new trial was set for February 14, 2008, 57 days after the written request was received. At the start of the trial, Benhoor moved to dismiss the citation pursuant to Penal Code section 1382, which requires a defendant in an infraction to be brought to trial within 45 days following the order granting a new trial. The trial court denied the motion and found Benhoor guilty. The appellate division of the superior court affirmed, finding that the statutory right to a speedy trial was inapplicable if the defendant proceeded by electing a trial by written declaration. The appellate court affirmed, holding that although the trial court violated rule 4.210(b)(7) by failing to bring Benhoor to trial within 45 days of his request for a new trial, dismissal was not required. By electing the convenience of a trial by written declaration, a defendant does waive the statutory right to a speedy trial and the remedy of a dismissal in the absence of good cause for a delay which is not necessarily a violation of constitutional magnitude. Benhoor could still have pursued his speedy trial claims if there was a viable basis for them, including a demonstration of prejudice or an uncommonly long delay, but based on this record, such a claim would not have merit.