Is a Criminal Complaint Considered a ''Formal Accusation'' ?

In Pharm v. Hatcher, 984 F.2d 783 (7th Cir. 1993), the defendant claimed that the State of Wisconsin had denied him a speedy trial because 13 years elapsed between when it charged him by felony complaint and when it filed an information against him. The federal court disagreed, holding that the defendant's right to a speedy trial did not accrue until he was charged by information. Noting that the Supreme Court had adopted a "narrow definition of official accusation, usually including only indictment and information," the court observed that Wisconsin law specifies that " 'the trial of a felony action shall be upon an information' " in which the State details the charges and to which the defendant must plead guilty or not guilty. Pharm, 984 F.2d at 785, quoting Wis. Stat. 971.05 see also Wis. Stat. 971.01, 971.02. Thus, the indictment or information is the "official charging document in a felony case" (Pharm, 984 F.2d at 785), and a criminal complaint is not a formal accusation under Marion. Pharm relied in part on Favors v. Eyman, 466 F.2d 1325 (9th Cir. 1972), which reached a similar result under Arizona law.