The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Iowa Constitution. Iowa also has a more stringent court rule regarding the right to a speedy trial–Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.33. This rule requires that a defendant charged with an indictable offense (a serious misdemeanor up to a Class A felony) must be brought to trial within ninety (90) days of the filing of the Trial Information, the formal charging document. The purpose of the speedy trial right is to prevent the State from delaying the prosecution, particularly when a defendant is in custody, when the State is attempting to find witnesses or evidence, or when the defendant otherwise desires a quick resolution of his or her case.
If trial does not occur within the ninety-day period, then the Trial Information must be dismissed, unless the defendant has waived his or her right to a speedy trial, the delay is attributable to the defendant, or good cause exists for the delay. A defendant’s own actions may result in a delay of the speedy trial being attributed to the defendant so that no speedy trial violation occurs. Generally, good cause is difficult for the State to establish. Courts look at the reason for the delay, the length of the delay, whether a defendant is prejudiced, and whether the defendant asserted his or her right to a speedy trial.
Even if a criminal defendant waives his or her right to a speedy trial, Iowa also has another speedy trial right. A criminal defendant be tried within one (1) year of the arraignment date, when the defendant enters his or her plea of not guilty. Similarly, if this right is violation, then the charge must be dismissed, unless an extension is granted by the court for good cause.
Sometimes, prosecutors slip up and do not follow proper procedure. For that reason, if charged with a criminal offense in Iowa, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.