Child sexual assault charges dismissed by Nevada Supreme Court after ‘gross negligence’ by police
The Nevada Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of charges that Rigoberto Inzunza sexually assaulted a girl under the age of 14, citing “gross negligence” by the North Las Vegas police.
According to the opinion, authorities made no effort to follow up on the criminal complaint for more than two years after it was filed. Prosecutors acknowledged that they knew Inzunza was in New Jersey but said it would have been futile to contact New Jersey authorities before obtaining a warrant. They blamed the error on the North Las Vegas PD, saying the agency failed to ensure a warrant was approved and then to follow up and see that the defendant was arrested.
Inzunza’s lawyers argued that constituted a clear violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial and the district court agreed, saying a two-year and two-month delay is presumptively prejudicial to a defendant. The district court ruled and the high court agreed that the government, not the defendant, was responsible for the delay because the detective in charge knew where Inzunza was all along but made no effort to contact him or have him arrested. He was told exactly how to find the defendant by the victim’s mother and his home and work address were in the criminal complaint but the detective made no effort to arrest him.
In addition, they agreed with the district court that there is no evidence Inzunza knew of any charges against him or made any attempt to flee.
After review, the high court panel ruled that, “we must afford the severe remedy of dismissal to Inzunza because of it the only possible remedy when a defendant’s speedy trial right has been denied.”