P. J., COOMER and MARKLE, JJ.
Dixon was arrested in July 2014 for two misdemeanor charges
arising out of a domestic dispute. Dixon was later indicted
in January 2016 for one felony count of aggravated assault
family violence and obstruction of a 911 call arising out of
the July 2014 incident. Dixon filed a motion to dismiss the
indictment on the ground that his constitutional right to a
speedy trial was violated. The trial court granted the
motion, following a hearing. The State appeals from an order
granting Dixon's motion to dismiss, and argues the trial
court erred in concluding that Dixon was denied his Sixth
Amendment right to a speedy trial. More specifically, the
State argues the trial court erred by misapplying the
four-factor balancing test for determining whether the Sixth
Amendment right to speedy trial was violated. For the reasons
that follow, we affirm.
review the trial court's order granting the motion to
dismiss the indictment under an abuse of discretion standard.
On appeal, the question is whether the trial court abused its
discretion in ruling that [Dixon's] speedy trial rights
were violated." State v. Moses, 301 Ga.App.
315, 316 (692 S.E.2d 1) (2009) (citation and punctuation
omitted). Nonetheless, "where the trial court has
clearly erred in some of its findings of fact and/or has
misapplied the law to some degree, the deference owed the
trial court's ultimate ruling is diminished."
Thomas v. State, 331 Ga.App. 641, 660 (8) (771
S.E.2d 255) (2015) (citation and punctuation omitted).
these guiding principles in mind, the record shows that on
July 11, 2014, Dixon was arrested for the offenses of
misdemeanor battery (family violence) and obstructing or
hindering an emergency call arising out of a domestic
dispute. On January 15, 2016, Dixon was indicted for the
felony offense of aggravated assault (family violence) and
the misdemeanor offense of obstructing or hindering an
emergency call. Dixon pleaded not guilty on April 18, 2016
and appeared on a final plea calendar on July 11, 2016, where
he elected to proceed with trial. On August 1, 2017, Dixon
filed a motion to dismiss the case, asserting that his
constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated.
Specifically, Dixon argued, inter alia, that the
delay between his arrest and the indictment was presumptively
prejudicial and that the State utilized the delay in
prosecuting the case to obtain a tactical advantage over him.
Following a hearing, the trial court granted Dixon's
motion and the State appealed.
State contends that the trial court made errors in its
findings of fact and misapplied the four-factor test that
guides Georgia courts in determining whether an accused's
Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial has been violated. We
Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the
Georgia Constitution provide that criminal defendants shall
have the right to a speedy trial. "The analysis has two
stages. First, the court must determine whether the interval
from the accused's arrest, indictment, or other formal
accusation to the trial is sufficiently long to be considered
presumptively prejudicial. Ruffin v. State, 284 Ga.
52, 55 (2) (663 S.E.2d 189) (2008) (footnote and punctuation
omitted). "If not, the speedy trial claim fails at the
threshold." Id. "If, however, the delay
has passed the point of presumptive prejudice, the court must
proceed to the second step of the
Barker-Doggett analysis, which requires the
application of a delicate, context-sensitive, four-factor
balancing test to determine whether the accused has been
deprived of the right to a speedy trial." Id.
"In determining whether the Sixth Amendment right to
speedy trial has been violated, courts consider 1) the length
of the delay, 2) the reason for the delay, 3) the
defendant's assertion of the right to a speedy trial, and
4) whether the defendant was prejudiced by the delay."
State v. Curry, 317 Ga.App. 611, 612-13 (732 S.E.2d
459) (2012) (citation omitted).
order granting Dixon's motion to dismiss pursuant to his
constitutional speedy trial demand, the trial court concluded
that the one year, six months and four days that lapsed
between Dixon's arrest and when he was indicted satisfied
the legal threshold for the trial court to proceed to the
second prong of its analysis. Moreover, on appeal, neither
party disputes that the interval from Dixon's arrest and
formal indictment through the then-scheduled trial date of
January 10, 2018, was sufficiently long to be considered
presumptively prejudicial. Because we agree with the trial
court that the pretrial delay in this case created a
presumption of prejudice, we move to the second stage of the
constitutional speedy trial analysis.
Length of the Delay
length of the pretrial delay in absolute terms plays a role
in the threshold determination of presumptive prejudice.
However, it also wears another hat as one of the four
interrelated criteria that must be weighed in the balance at
the second stage of the Barker-Doggett
analysis." Ditman v. State, 301 Ga.App. 187,
190 (2) (a) (687 S.E.2d 155) (2009) (citation omitted).
"The extent to which delay can be seen as uncommonly
long depends to some extent on the complexity and seriousness
of the charges in that case." Thomas v. State,
331 Ga.App. 641, 661 (8) (b) (i) (771 S.E.2d 255) (2015)
(citation and punctuation omitted).
Dixon was arrested on July 11, 2014, on two misdemeanor
charges of battery and obstruction or hindering an emergency
call. On January 15, 2016, one year six months and four days
after his arrest, Dixon was indicted for felony aggravated
assault arising out of the July 2014 incident. At the hearing
on Dixon's motion to dismiss, the State proffered no
explanation for the delay between Dixon's arrest and
indictment or what factored into the State's decision to
charge Dixon with a felony 18 months after his arrest. This
Court has previously held that, "[i]nvestigative delay
is acceptable, whereas delay undertaken by the Government
solely to gain tactical advantage over the accused is not
acceptable." State v. Thaxton, 311 Ga.App. 260,
265 (2) (b) (715 S.E.2d 480) (2011) (citation omitted). As
the trial court found here, the State did not adequately
explain its failure to expeditiously pursue this relatively
simple domestic incident except to say that the delay was the
result of negligence and delays within the court system
itself. Thus, we find no error in the trial court's
analysis that this factor should be weighed against the
Reason for the Delay
of this factor requires a determination of whether the
government or the defendant is more responsible for the
delay." Harrison v. State, 311 Ga.App. 787, 790
(3) (b) (717 S.E.2d 303) (2011) (footnote omitted). Here, the
trial court analyzed the reason for the delay in three
phases: pre-indictment, post-indictment, and the delay after
Dixon asserted his right to a speedy trial.