Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 14 CR 13441
Honorable Mary C. Robert, Judge, presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE COBBS delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion.Justices Howse and Lavin concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant, Earl Echols, appeals the denial of his motion to
dismiss the indictment for aggravated driving under the
influence of a controlled substance. Echols contends that he
was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial when
the State failed to produce him for trial until one year
after the offense was committed even though he was in State
custody during that time. For the reasons that follow, we
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On the evening of December 25, 2013, Echols was arrested
after crashing his vehicle into a fire hydrant, several
parked cars, and a building. At the hospital, Echols told the
investigating officers that he had "smoked some PCP and
passed out." Echols was charged with misdemeanor driving
under the influence (DUI) of an intoxicant and appeared in
court for his bond hearing the following day. On January 27,
2014, the court granted the State's motion for nolle
prosequi and the misdemeanor charges were dropped.
Counsel noted, during argument on the motion to dismiss, that
it was unclear whether the public defender representing
Echols informed him that the misdemeanor charge had been
nol-prossed because the State intended to file felony charges
at a later time.
4 Due to the misdemeanor arrest, Echols's probation from
a prior offense was revoked on February 28,
2014. Four days later, he was transferred from
the custody of the Cook County Sheriff to the Illinois
Department of Corrections. On July 28, 2014, a grand jury
indicted Echols on five counts of aggravated DUI. The State
sent notice of the arraignment court date to Echols's
last known address. On August 11, 2014, Echols was not
present for arraignment. The State requested a three-week
continuance to resend notice of a new court date after
indicating that a copy of the indictment letter was missing
from its file. At the next hearing on September 2, 2014,
Echols was still incarcerated, had not received the notices,
and as such did not appear. The court issued an arrest
warrant and ordered Echols's bail forfeited based on the
State's representations that it had sent proper notice to
him of both court dates.
5 Echols remained in custody at Stateville Correctional
Center until April 3, 2015. The day after completing his
probation revocation sentence, Echols was arrested on the
outstanding warrant in this case. He was arraigned on April
6, 2015, and attended a bond review hearing three days later.
At the bond review hearing, the State noted for the record
that standard operating procedure upon issuing a warrant
includes running a computerized custody check. However, when
the State ran a local, state, and federal custody check on
September 2, 2014, the results failed to reveal Echols's
incarceration on his probation revocation. Therefore, the
court issued a $50, 000 bond and set the next court date.
6 On April 16, 2015, Echols filed a motion to dismiss the
charges arguing that his constitutional right to a speedy
trial had been violated. The State tendered a written
response the following month. On May 27, 2015, after hearing
argument, the court denied the motion and proceeded to a
bench trial. The bench trial was conducted over the course of
two days and included testimony from two responding officers
and stipulations as to the testimony of the eyewitness to the
crash, the nurse who collected the DUI kit from Echols, and
the forensic scientist who tested the DUI kit samples.
Echols's urine tested positive for phencyclidine (PCP)
and morphine. Additionally, vehicle records were entered into
evidence showing that he owned the vehicle involved in the
crash. The defense rested without presenting any evidence.
After brief closing arguments, the court found defendant
guilty on all five counts of aggravated DUI.
7 On October 2, 2015, the court denied Echols's motion
for reconsideration or new trial and sentenced him to 18
months in the Illinois Department of Corrections with one
year mandatory supervised release. The court noted that the
five counts merged into one and denied Echols's oral
motion to reconsider the sentence. This appeal followed.
8 II. ANALYSIS
9 On appeal, Echols contends that the trial court erred in
refusing to dismiss the charges on constitutional
speedy-trial grounds. Echols argues that the trial court
should have dismissed the charges because there was a 477-day
delay in prosecution, he was in State custody for a majority
of that delay, the delay was not attributable to him, and he
was prejudiced by the lost opportunity to serve concurrent
sentences. The State responds that the record does not
support finding a 477-day delay, the delay was caused by the
State's reasonable belief that Echols was not in custody,
and that Echols suffered no prejudice from the delay.
Both the federal and state constitutions guarantee the right
to a speedy trial. See U.S. Const., amend. VI; Ill. Const.
1970, art. I, § 8. The sixth amendment right to a speedy
trial in the federal constitution is fundamental and is
applicable to the states by the due process clause of the
fourteenth amendment. See Klopfer v. North Carolina,
386 U.S. 213 (1967). We note that, although there is a
statutory right to a speedy trial in Illinois (see 725 ILCS
5/103-5 (West 2014)), Echols only alleges a violation of his
11 Our supreme court has adopted the four-factor balancing
test outlined in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530
(1972), for considering whether a defendant's
constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated.
People v. Bazzell, 68 Ill.2d 177, 182 (1977). To
determine whether a violation has occurred, we must balance
(1) the length of delay, (2) the reason for the delay, (3)
the defendant's assertion of his right, and (4) prejudice
to the defendant. Barker, 407 U.S. at 530. No single
factor is regarded as "a necessary or sufficient
condition to the finding of a deprivation of the right of
speedy trial." Id. at 533. All the factors are
related and must be considered along with other relevant
circumstances in assessing whether a defendant's
fundamental right to a speedy trial has been violated.
Id. "[T]he ultimate determination of whether a
defendant's constitutional speedy-trial right has been
violated is subject to de novo review."
People v. Crane, 195 Ill.2d 42, 52 (2001). However,
we will uphold the trial court's factual determinations
unless they are against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Id. at 51. Here, the facts are undisputed, and we
review the matter de novo.
12 A. Length of Delay
13 The parties disagree on the length of time Echols was
deprived of a speedy trial and whether the delay was
sufficient to raise a constitutional question. Echols argues
he suffered 477 days of delay from the offense date to the
date he filed his motion to dismiss. The State contends that the
delay was no more than 250 days commencing from either the
issuance of the indictment or the arrest warrant to
Echols's actual arrest on that warrant. To resolve this
disagreement, we must determine the effect of nol-prossing
charges on a defendant's constitutional right to a speedy
14 1. The Effect of Nolle Prosequi
15 Echols contends that the six-month delay between the
State's motion to nol-pros the misdemeanor charges and
the subsequent felony indictment must be considered as a
delay affecting his right to a speedy trial. The State
responds that the speedy-trial right accrued either when
Echols was formally indicted on felony charges or when the
arrest warrant was issued.
16 "The right to a speedy trial guaranteed by the sixth
amendment (U.S. Const., amend. VI) applies only within
'the confines of a formal criminal prosecution,' that
is, once a defendant has been arrested or charged."
People v. Totzke, 2012 IL App (2d) 110823, ¶ 19
(quoting Doggett v. United States,505 U.S. 647,
655, (1992)). Thus, the right to a speedy trial does not
accrue until the defendant is accused. United States v.
Marion,404 U.S. 307, 320 (1971); People v.
Mitchell,356 Ill.App.3d 158, 161 (2005). It is the
actual restraint imposed on a defendant's liberty by
arrest, formal indictment or information, and holding ...