Press Release: Senate Passes Legislation Promoting Procedural Safeguards in Ohio's Criminal Justice System
COLUMBUS - On Wednesday, State Senator John Eklund
(R-Munson Township) announced the Senate passage of legislation which maintains a defendant's rights to a fair and speedy trial while assuring that felony charges are not dismissed, and defendants are not released into our communities, based on inadvertently missed speedy trial dates.
"Our system of justice requires that proper procedures exist before the accused can be prosecuted and found guilty by a jury," said Eklund, the sponsor of Senate Bill 32. "This legislation also guarantees that a defendant is not left lingering in jail indefinitely without access to the courts."
A defendant facing felony charges is guaranteed a trial within 270 days of arrest. Many defendants waive this right so that the accused may gather witnesses, seek legal counsel, and prepare an effective defense. The proposed legislation would help ensure that justice is done in all cases of alleged criminal conduct.
Under current law, if the defendant is not brought to trial within the statutory time limit, the charges are dismissed with prejudice, no matter how slight the violation or how serious the charges, even if the violation does not prejudice the defendant.
Existing law does not allow for adequate delivery of justice. In certain cases, defendants have escaped answering charges of criminal conduct simply because the trial date was mistakenly set beyond the statutory time limit. This proposal will avoid the harsh consequences of what is usually an innocent and inconsequential violation of an arbitrary statutory timeline.
Senate Bill 32 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.