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Statutory speedy trial rights in Virginia

Dec 24, 2010 Statutory speedy trial rights in Virginia

In Virginia, a felony trial generally must commence within five months after probable cause is found at a preliminary hearing (or indictment if no preliminary hearing is held) for defendants detained pretrial, and nine months for those not detained. Va. Code § 19.2-243.

Virginia’s Court of Appeals recently refused to reverse a murder conviction on a trial that started long after nine months had elapsed, for the following reason:

Under Code § 19.2-169.1, only the circuit court could restore appellant to competency to stand trial; thus, we hold that appellant was not restored to competency to stand trial until the circuit court so ruled on July 10, 2009. Consequently, because the statutory speedy trial period was tolled under Code § 19.2-243 by a continuance until appellant was restored to competency to stand trial, the running of the statutory speedy trial period did not resume until July 10, 2009. Appellant’s trial began on July 13, 2009, a delay of only three days after the statutory speedy trial period resumed. Therefore, we find that appellant was tried within the speedy trial period specified by Code § 19.2-243 and the circuit court did not err in refusing to dismiss the prosecution against him.

Brown v. Virginia, ___ Va. App. ___ (Dec. 21, 2010).

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