When motorists facing DUI charges hire an attorney, it is expected that their counsel will resolve the legal issues which arise. However, Jason William Gale had a different experience. When he underwent a background check for a new job, he discovered he had an outstanding warrant for a 1995 DUI in North Dakota.
Gale at the time had hired an attorney and was informed the case was resolved and closed. As a result, Gale moved and left North Dakota, believing there were no criminal charges pending. Around 2015, prosecutors caught up to Gale, took him to court, and was convicted despite the delay in prosecution.
Cass County, the government prosecuting the case, said it had sent three notices to Gale. However, Gale claimed that he had never received any such notice. Gale noted the court had his address after moving because of other legal actions.
Gale filed a motion to dismiss the arrest warrant because of the long time lapse. But the state district court that heard the case ruled against him, saying it found his testimony “incredible,” reasoning that Gale took action only because he wanted the job.
As a result, Cass County prosecutors tried the case. At trial, a retired police officer took the stand, and could barely recall Gale’s arrest and had to rely on notes to recall the events. Despite of this, the judge found Gale guilty.
Now, the North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that the 20-year delay violated Gale’s right to a speedy trial, guaranteed to him by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
In overturning Gale’s conviction, the North Dakota Supreme Court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has said that an 8 ½-year delay in prosecuting a case was “extraordinary” and that this was a much longer lapse. The court also noted that Gale’s right to a fair trial was impaired because the police officer witness couldn’t recall the case and couldn’t answer Gale’s questions about it.
If you are currently facing criminal charges where prospectors failed to timely file or prosecute your case, you may be entitled to a dismissal. Please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Tina M. Barberi at (559) 447-1240 to discuss your matter.