Mr. Stephen Knight of Danville recently wrote a letter to the editor in The Advocate-Messenger questioning a proposed amendment to the Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure. The letter raises thoughtful questions that deserve an answer from me. Mr. Knight is to be commended for bringing the issue to public attention.
The proposed rules amendment permits trial judges to dismiss criminal cases "without prejudice" if no steps are taken for one year and the prosecutor does not adequately explain the failure to move forward with the case. One charged with a crime is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Doubtless, however, pending criminal charges without a timely determination of guilt or innocence burden the person charged by subjecting him or her to the jurisdiction of the court, possible restriction of freedom, and the requirement of giving bond to obtain pre-trial release. It is unfair to the police, the victims, the defendant, and the criminal justice system to leave criminal charges unresolved for excessive periods of time.