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What is a Serna Motion?

You were arrested for a misdemeanor DUI, but it’s been over a year since the date of your arrest and you still haven’t heard back from the courts. Is there a statute of limitations for DUI? How long do you have to keep looking over your shoulder?

A misdemeanor DUI must be filed within one year of the date of the arrest. For felonies, the state has three years to file charges with exceptions, such as murder.

If the state filed the complaint within one year of the date of your arrest, you likely have a warrant for your arrest. However, this brings us to the speedy trial motion, known as a Serna motion

If your DUI case was filed and you were never asked to appear in court, you may have a Serna issue, which we recommend exploring.

But what is a Serna motion?

It’s a motion to dismiss a criminal case because the defendant was not afforded the right to a speedy trial or prosecution. We bring these in DUI cases where the prosecutor filed the complaint, but he or she waited a long time before bringing the DUI defendant to court or trial.

Essentially, when we file the “Serna motion,” we’re filing a motion to dismiss the California DUI charges because our client was not afforded the constitutional right to a speedy trial. If we are successful in filing a Serna motion, the result is we get your DUI charges dismissed.

Serna motions are meant to protect your rights under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and under Article I, Section 15 of the California Constitution. Our basic argument is that if it’s been more than a year since your arrest, then your Constitutional right to a speedy trial has been denied.

If this is the case, we’re shifting the burden back to the government, who must explain their reasons for the lengthy delay. In practice, this is very difficult for them to do so it works in the defense’s favor.

Do you have an old DUI case? If so, a Serna motion may be an effective defense strategy. Contact an Orange County DUI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to discuss this possibility.