Legal Question in Criminal Law in Mississippi

Length of time defendant can be held before endictment

A relative was arrested 1 month ago; has been in Desoto Co. Jail since. Yesterday was moved to Talahatchee County Jail and was told that it will be 6 months before he is bound over to G.J. Neither he nor family can afford bail bond or attorney. Is it legal to hold a defendant that long before binding him over?

Asked on 8/19/02, 10:13 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Albert Pettigrew Law Offices Ph 228-875-8736

Re: Length of time defendant can be held before endictment

The case of Mitchell v. State, 792 So.2d 192 (Miss. 2001) is instructive. It states that the constitutional right to speedy trial attaches at the time when the defendant is first effectively accused of the offense." Gray v. State, 728 So. 2d 36, 47-48 (Miss. 1998) (citing Perry v. State, 419 So. 2d 194, 198 (Miss. 1982)). The Court has held this to begin at the "'time of a formal indictment or information or else the actual restraints imposed by arrest and holding to a criminal charge.'" Perry v. State, 637 So. 2d 871, 874 (Miss. 1994) (quoting Lightsey v. State, 493 So. 2d 375, 378 (Miss. 1986)).

Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 92 S. Ct. 2182, 33 L. Ed. 2d 101 (1972), provides the test for determining whether there has been a constitutional violation of the right to speedy trial. The test requires consideration of the following factors: "(1) length of the delay, (2) reason for the delay, (3) defendant's assertion of his right, and (4) prejudice to the defendant." Wall v. State, 718 So. 2d 1107, 1113 (Miss. 1998). No mechanical formula exists according to which these factors must be weighed and balanced. The weight given each necessarily turns on the peculiar facts and circumstances of each case, the quality of evidence available on each factor and, in the absence of evidence, identification of the party with the risk of non-persuasion. No one factor is dispositive. A sensitive weighing and balancing of all is necessary. Jaco v. State, 574 So. 2d 625, 629 (Miss. 1990).

Additionally, the government has under Miss. Code Annot. 99-7-1 (2000), 270 days from the date of the arraignment to bring the defendant to trial. Arraignment is the Courtís act of informing the accused of the charges against him.

Your family member needs to seek a writ of habeas corpus from the Circuit Court if there has been a constitutional violation or a right to a speedy trial or a violation of the 270-day rule.

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Answered on 8/20/02, 3:47 pm
Jeffery Navarro Jeffery M. Navarro, Attorney at Law

Re: Length of time defendant can be held before endictment

Unfortunately, yes. You can seek a bond reduction. What is the amount of the bail, and what is the charge?

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Answered on 8/19/02, 1:22 pm

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