People v. Pettis, 2017 IL App (4th) 151006 (May). Episode 354 (Duration 6:18)
No speedy trial violation because the state properly relied on the DNA extension.
On July 7, 2013, defendant was arrested and later charged with
(1) armed habitual criminal (720 ILCS 5/24-1.7(a) (West 2012)),
(2) aggravated unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2012)), and
(3) reckless discharge of a firearm (720 ILCS 5/24-1.5(a) (West 2012)).
Defendant remained in custody throughout these proceedings.
The State filed a motion to compel defendant to submit a DNA sample, which the trial court granted on, the State filed a motion for a continuance pursuant to section 103-5(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/103-5(c)), requesting 120 additional days for the Illinois State Police crime laboratory (lab) to complete its processing of defendant’s DNA.
The Law Says
Generally, under section 103-5(a) of the Code,
“every person in custody in this State for an alleged offense shall be tried by the court having jurisdiction within 120 days from the date he [or she] was taken into custody.” 725 ILCS 5/103-5(a).
However, “[i]f the [trial] court determines that the State has exercised without success due diligence to obtain results of DNA testing that is material to the case and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that such results may be obtained at a later day, the court may continue the cause on application of the State for not more than an additional 120 days.” 725 ILCS 5/103-5(c).
This Illinois evidence guide contain further information.
The State contends it is responsible for 162 days of delay, whereas defendant asserts 249 days are attributable to the State.
For calculating the number of days in each time period, we exclude the first date and include the last date. Various dates were attributable to the state and various dates were attributed to the defendant.
The dates at issue revolved around the state’s motions for more DNA time.
The State asserts the trial court’s, order extended the speedy trial term an additional 120 days for DNA processing provided the State with a total of 240 days to bring defendant to trial.
Where the court grants the State additional time to procure DNA testing results under section 103-5(c), the State interprets these provisions as granting the State a cumulative period of 240 days to bring a defendant to trial.
Defendant, on the other hand, argues the State had only 120 days to bring him to trial because the DNA was completed early. The State didn’t use the extra time for DNA related purposes.
The length of the delay depends on the State’s request. Under defendant’s analysis, once the State obtained the DNA evidence, the remainder of the additional 120 days granted pursuant to section 103-5(c) should be rescinded
The Case Law
This court has already affirmed that section 103-5(c) allows the trial court to continue cases involving DNA testing for a maximum of 120 days beyond the initial 120-day period provided in section 103-5(a), for a total maximum period of 240 days, without violating a defendant’s speedy-trial rights.
Here, the State filed its motion to continue pursuant to section 103-5(c) early in the initial 120-day speedy-trial period and requested an additional 120 days to procure DNA testing results, which the trial court granted after finding the State had acted with due diligence.
The court did not adopt the defendant’s theory.
There is no “due diligence” in this analysis.
Based on the trial court’s, order granting the State an additional 120 days pursuant to section 103-5(c), the State was entitled to 240 total days to bring defendant to trial. Period.
Therefore, because only 162 days of delay are attributable to the State, the reviewing court concluded the trial court erred in granting defendant’s motion for discharge.
This doesn’t mean the defendant did not have a legitimate beef.
In this case, the State filed its motion seeking an additional 120 days, long before the expiration of the initial speedy-trial period. The trial court found the State exercised due diligence in its attempts to procure the evidence by that date, granted the motion to extend the speedy-trial deadline for an additional 120 days, and scheduled the case for a series of reviews to determine the status of the DNA evidence.
Although there was no apparent abuse in this case, procedurally, this approach may allow the State to delay a case for a period significantly longer than necessary to procure the DNA evidence.
For example, here, where the DNA evidence was available prior to the expiration of the initial speedy-trial period, the court’s ruling permitted the State to delay up to an additional 120 days for the purpose of obtaining testing results it had already received.
Wait & See Approach
A better practice would be to avoid granting the entire 120 days unless the circumstances strongly suggest such an extension is necessary.
Periodic review dates, coupled with an order extending the speedy-trial period for a portion of the 120 days, would help to ensure only the time actually needed is given. If the State is unable to obtain the test results within the initial extension, the court, upon the request of the State, may grant additional extensions up to the 120 days allowed by the statute.
Additionally, defendants should not hesitate to request that if the court is inclined to grant a continuance, it do so for a period of less than 120 days. In making these suggestions, we do not intend to obligate the trial court to proceed as we have proposed.
The trial court was wrong to grant the defendant’s speedy trial violation motions. Reversed and remanded.