STATE v. JON SWEBILIUS, SC 19526

Judicial District of New Haven

 

†††† †Criminal; Whether Appellate Court Properly Affirmed Finding That Arrest Warrant Executed Without Unreasonable Delay Such That Statute of Limitations for Prosecution Tolled.† On May 28, 2008, state police executed a search warrant for the defendantís hotel room and seized thirty-four computer related items. Based on evidence seized in the search, the police, on May 9, 2013, obtained a warrant for the defendantís arrest for possession of child pornography in the first degree.† While the five year statute of limitations for that offense was set to expire on May 28, 2013, the arrest warrant was not served on the defendant until June 10, 2013.† Pursuant to State v. Crawford, 202 Conn. 443 (1987), the defendant moved to dismiss the charge on the ground that his prosecution was barred by the statute of limitations.† In Crawford, the Supreme Court held that the timely issuance of an arrest warrant tolls the statute of limitations if the warrant is executed by the state without unreasonable delay.† The defendant argued that, while the arrest warrant was issued within the limitations period, the limitation period was not tolled because the arrest warrant was executed with unreasonable delay after the limitation period had expired. †The court denied the motion, ruling that the thirty-one day time period between the issuance and the service of the warrant was not unreasonable.† The defendant then entered a plea of nolo contendere conditioned on his right to appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss.† On appeal, he claimed that the trial court improperly made a per se determination of reasonableness in that it relied solely on the length of the delay.† He argued that that approach violated Crawford and that a court, when evaluating whether a delay in serving a warrant is reasonable, must consider whether the state exercised due diligence in serving the warrant.† Here, the record showed that, after the issuance of the warrant, the state took no affirmative action during the ensuing thirty-one day period to serve the warrant.† The Appellate Court (158 Conn. App. 418) affirmed the trial courtís judgment.† It observed that in cases involving much longer periods of delay than the one in the present case, the courts, in determining whether the delay was reasonable, have considered whether the police acted with due diligence in serving the warrant.† However, citing State v. Kruelski, 41 Conn. App. 476, cert. denied, 238 Conn. 903 (1996), the Appellate Court also observed that there was an exception to that rule where the delay is so short that it is deemed reasonable as a matter of law.† The court concluded that the period of delay here was so short that no justification was required for the stateís inaction.† The defendant appeals, and the Supreme Court will consider whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the trial courtís decision denying the defendantís motion to dismiss pursuant to State v. Crawford. ††