Do Felony Complaints Start the Speedy-Trial Clock ?

In People v. Martinez, 22 Cal. 4th 750, 996 P.2d 32, 94 Cal.Rptr.2d 381 (2000), the California Supreme Court also held that the filing of a felony complaint does not trigger a defendant's sixth amendment right to a speedy trial. The court reasoned that, under California law, a complaint enables a magistrate to allow an arrest in a felony case, but an information or an indictment is necessary to give the trial court jurisdiction over the prosecution of the alleged felony. Martinez, 22 Cal. 4th at 763-64, 996 P.2d at 41-42, 94 Cal.Rptr. at 391-92. In Davis v. State, 630 S.W.2d 532 (Tex. Crim. App. 1982), the court held that a felony complaint is not a formal accusation that starts the speedy-trial clock. The court followed the reasoning of the Missouri Supreme Court (applying its own state's law) that, while a complaint serves as the basis for an arrest warrant and creates the possibility that a criminal charge will be filed, " 'felonies are prosecuted by indictment or information.' " Davis, 630 S.W.2d at 537, quoting State v. Caffey, 438 S.W.2d 167, 171 (Mo. 1969). The court explained further that, by referring specifically to a formal indictment or information, the Supreme Court in Marion implied that "a less formal accusation or charge, such as the filing of a complaint or the issuance of an arrest warrant," would not trigger the sixth amendment right to a speedy trial. Davis, 630 S.W.2d at 537.