The Eastern District Superior Court has just entered a decision in Commonwealth v. Colon, 2014 PA. Super 45, No. 3433 EDA 2012. It is an appeal from a denial of a Rule 600 motion in which it took the Commonwealth over 1,000 days to bring the defendant to trial. The Superior Court reversed the trial court's opinion and dismissed the charges.
Rule 600 is a rule of Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure that provides that a defendant must be brought to trial within 365 days of being charged (180 days if incarcerated). Although it is common for Courts to attribute many delays to the defendant if the Commonwealth does not make a legitimate effort to bring the case to trial it must be dismissed. This is different from a "statute of limitations" which dictates how long the Commonwealth has to charge the defendant, Rule 600 applies only after criminal charges have been filed.
It is not uncommon for low level cases such as DUIs or simple possession charges to roll past Rule 600 as police officers and prosecuting attorneys may not have them as a priority. Any defendant facing criminal charges should consult with an attorney to determine if a Motion to Dismiss for Rule 600 is appropriate.
T. Axel Jones, Esq.
Admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and Federal Bar.