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Before granting a State-charged continuance to a date beyond the recapture window of Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191, a court should consider three principles. First, a defense-moved continuance should not be charged to the State unless the State has violated a rule. Second, if any remedy will provide relief to the defendant and permit the State to move forward with its case within the speedy trial and recapture periods provided by the rules, the trial court must select it. Third, a defendant seeking to take advantage of the speedy trial rule must have acted in a manner consistent with a desire to secure s speedy trial, and not simply a speedy discharge. Application of these principles strikes the proper balance between the defendant's discovery rights and the public's interest in the prosecution of criminal cases, while also ensuring that the State's discovery violations, and not gamesmanship, are truly the reason the defendant has not received a trial within the speedy trial limits provided under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191.
Defendant was arrested for lewd or lascivious molestation on December 12, 2012, and filed a notice of intent to participate in discovery five days later. He was charged on February 5, 2013, and the State filed its initial discovery exhibit on April 15, 2013. The discovery exhibit was late and incomplete. With discovery still outstanding, the default speedy trial period under Rule 3.191(a) ended on June 5, 2013. On June 12, 2013, the defense filed a written notice of expiration of speedy trial time and orally requested a hearing to address discovery violations, notifying the court that the State was still providing discovery at that late date. This notice triggered a requirement that the court hold a hearing within five days and, if appropriate based on Rule 3.191 and representations made at the hearing, schedule a trial within ten days of the hearing. Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191(a), (p). The court scheduled trial to begin within this time frame, known as the recapture window, understanding that the discovery issues would be taken up at a hearing on June 17. In the meantime, on June 14, defendant filed a motion for a thirty-day continuance to be charged to the State. With days remaining in the recapture window, the court granted the defendant’s motion, continuing the case to an unspecified date beyond the recapture window, and charged the continuance to the State. The court concluded that the State's delay in providing many discovery items was inexcusable and substantially prejudiced the defendant’s ability to prepare for a timely trial. Some months later, defendant moved for a speedy trial discharge, which was granted. The State appealed.
Did the trial court err in granting the defendant a speedy trial discharge?
The court held that the trial court erred in granting defendant a speedy trial discharge under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191, as it failed to consider whether any prejudice resulting from the State's violations could have been cured with a shorter continuance to a date within the recapture window or perhaps by exclusion of evidence or testimony, its inquiry into whether the discovery violations resulted in prejudice was lacking, and it failed to weigh defendant's failure to seek an order compelling the State to provide missing discovery before the expiration of the speedy trial period.