State v. Kelly


Oral Argument
12/05/07 – 12/05/07

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Play button overlay 45f08f27c7337d189e8c31e635b5d0a0781b273131135cd77ee8b6f12366e7a2


Case Description: Police arrested Kelly on July 22, 1998, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for driving under the influence and failing to obey a traffic device. The police issued a summons and complaint and the Justice of the Peace Court scheduled Kelly to appear to answer the complaint on July 25, 1998. He failed to appear, and the Justice of the Peace Court issued a capias for his arrest on August 12, 1998. The capias remained outstanding for nearly eight years. On May 26, 2006, defense counsel entered an appearance on Kelly’s behalf in Justice of the Peace Court No. 2 and elected to transfer the charges pending in the Justice of the Peace Court to the Court of Common Pleas pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 5303. Complying with Court of Common Pleas Criminal Rule 3. The State filed an information on June 15, 2006, charging Kelly with the same offenses recited in the complaint filed in the Justice of the Peace Court almost eight years before. The next day, Kelly moved to dismiss the information on the ground the two-year statute of limitations in 11 Del. C. § 205(b)(3) for unclassified misdemeanors barred the prosecution. The Court of Common Pleas judge agreed and dismissed the case. The State appealed and a Superior Court judge affirmed the Court of Common Pleas. The applicable statutes do not classify the offenses for a first violation, thus, the alleged offenses are unclassified misdemeanors under 11 Del. C. § 233(b). dismissal.

Proceedings Description: The State contends that it properly initiated Kelly’s prosecution in the Justice of the Peace Court by complaint and that Kelly’s voluntary election to transfer the charges under 11 Del. C. § 5303 to the Court of Common Pleas was an action begun “as otherwise provided. . . by statute” within the meaning of Court of Common Pleas Criminal Rule 3. Under 11 Del. C. § 5305, a case that a defendant transfers from the Justice of the Peace Court to the Court of Common Pleas proceeds as if it had “commenced” in the Court of Common Pleas

Outcome: The Supreme Court reverses and remands the case back.


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