What Is 30/30 Time And How Is It Calculated In New York?
30/30 time refers to New York’s speedy trial law, which is codified in Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) Section 30.30. This law sets time limits for prosecutors to be ready for trial, based on the level of offense charged. If prosecutors are not ready within the time limits, the case can potentially be dismissed.
Overview of 30/30 Time Limits
Here are the basic 30/30 time limits under CPL 30.30(1):
- Felonies: 6 months
- Class A misdemeanors: 90 days
- Class B misdemeanors: 60 days
- Violations: 30 days
So for example, if someone is charged with a Class A misdemeanor, the prosecution has 90 days from commencement of the action to announce their readiness for trial.
The purpose of 30/30 time is to ensure a defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial. It prevents cases from dragging on indefinitely before going to trial.
When Does the 30/30 Clock Start?
The 30/30 clock starts running at the criminal action’s commencement. This is usually the arraignment, which is the defendant’s first court appearance where charges are read and bail is set.
So if a defendant’s arraignment on a Class A misdemeanor was on January 1st, the 30/30 clock would start running that day. The prosecution then has until 90 days later, on April 1st, to announce their readiness.
Stopping the 30/30 Clock
There are certain events that will pause or “stop” the 30/30 clock, including:
- Conversion of complaint to information: When a felony complaint is converted to an information, the clock stops until the next court appearance. This gives prosecutors time to present evidence to a grand jury.
- Grand jury action: For felonies, the clock stops when an indictment is voted and filed. This marks the conclusion of the grand jury’s investigation.
- Prosecution’s statement of readiness: At any time, prosecutors can file a written statement saying they are ready for trial. This stops the clock until the next court date.
- Certain defense motions: If the defense files motions that require time to resolve, like discovery demands, the time required to decide the motions is excluded.
- Exceptional circumstances: Delays caused by exceptional circumstances like the death of a judge or prosecutor’s illness can also pause the clock.
So while the clock runs continuously at first, there are many potential stops along the way. The total amount of non-excluded time is what counts toward the 30/30 limit.
Calculating 30/30 Time
Given all the starts, stops, and exclusions, 30/30 time calculations can be tricky. The key is to track time carefully at each court appearance.
Here are some tips for tracking 30/30 time:
- Mark the commencement date, usually the arraignment.
- Note whenever the prosecution announces they are not ready, and request a specific time period. This time counts toward the 30/30 limit.
- Note other delays and exclusions. Don’t count excluded periods toward the time limit.
- Use a daily calendar to tally the total non-excluded days between the commencement and the current court date.
- Consult with an attorney, who can help explain what periods count toward the time limit versus exclusions.
- Request an update on remaining time from the judge at each appearance. Defendants have a right to an update every 90 days.
Careful record-keeping is key, since prosecutors do not always track time accurately themselves. Defense attorneys commonly file 30/30 motions when the prosecution has exceeded the time limit.
Consequences of Exceeding 30/30 Time
If the total non-excluded time exceeds the 30/30 limit, the defense can file a motion to dismiss. If the motion is granted, the entire criminal case is dismissed based on the speedy trial violation. This is a complete dismissal with prejudice, meaning the charges cannot be re-filed.
Dismissal is a strong remedy to protect defendants’ rights. But before dismissing, judges must give prosecutors a chance to argue against the motion. Prosecutors may claim certain periods should be excluded, or challenge the defense’s time calculations.
If a case is nearing the 30/30 limit, prosecutors may offer plea bargains or request the defense agree to waive some of the remaining time. Defendants are not required to waive time and can refuse if they wish to pursue dismissal.
While exact outcomes depend on the judge and circumstances of each case, exceeding the 30/30 limit often results in dismissal absent unusual circumstances. The time limits give real teeth to a defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial in New York.