In recent news, the star Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has been cleared by prosecutors after being investigated for a sexual assault. According to a report by USA Today, the redshirt freshman was initially investigated for his involvement in a sexual assault that was alleged to have occurred in December 2012. Despite the police department’s knowledge of the report, the department did not communicate the report to the District Attorney’s office until November of this year—eleven months after the investigation began.
A DNA sample taken in November showed that Winston’s DNA was on the victim’s underwear. However, another man’s DNA was found on her pants. The District Attorney cited this discrepancy as one of the reasons the charges were dropped.
Police and Prosecutors Must Follow the Rules
When a police officer arrests a suspect, a timer begins to count down. From that moment on, there are several appearances and entries that must be made on the record before that case can proceed to trial. If the police or prosecutors delay the process and miss any of these deadlines, then the defendant may get his case dismissed based on a violation of his constitutional or statutory rights.
Delay in the Criminal Justice System
All defendants are entitled to a speedy trial once they are arrested and charged with a crime. And, in most cases, defendants hope to have a speedy trial because the pre-trial process is stressful due to the uncertainty of what the future holds. However, for a variety of reasons, a case may get lost in the system for months, or even years. When that delay is attributed to the State, the defendant may be able to get the case dismissed based on a violation of his speedy trial rights.
The United State Constitution prevents the State from bringing charges in extreme cases of delay because the delay may prejudice the defendant. For example, if the trial is delayed, the defendant may be prejudiced because:
- It is increasingly difficult to find witness to the crime.
- Witnesses that can be located may have fading memories of the events.
- Physical evidence may deteriorate or may be more difficult to find.
- The defendant has likely been incarcerated in the meantime, increasing the difficulty of preparing a defense.
When Police or Prosecutors Drop the Ball
Both police and prosecutors are human and make errors. When they do, a criminal defendant should not be the one to pay for their mistake. An experienced criminal defense attorney is ready to identify and jump on any mistake made by a police officer or prosecutor and argue for a dismissal.
What to Do if You Have Charged with a Criminal Offense in Florida
If you have been charged with a crime in Florida, you should contact a dedicated Jacksonville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner your attorney is able to begin reviewing your case and the actions of the arresting officers, the better the chance he can get your case dismissed.
The Forbess Law Firm is a preeminent Jacksonville criminal defense firm with a successful record defending against all types of criminal charges. No matter how serious the charge or how strong the State’s case seems at first blush, there is always something that an attorney can do to represent your best interests. Contact the Forbess Law Firm online, or call 904-634-0900 today to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
See More Blog Posts:
Hollywood Police Officer Charged with DWI, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, November 12, 2013.
Intoxilyzer 8000 Evidence Called into Question, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, November 7, 2013.