What is the Right to a Speedy Trial Under the 6th Amendment?

If you have been accused of any crime, it’s important to have a grasp of the Sixth Amendment, which grants you the right to a speedy trial. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that citizens do not spend an unreasonable amount of time waiting for the chance to defend themselves and resolve their case in court. If you have been arrested or indicted, you have the right to a speedy trial. There is no set-in stone timeline that has to me followed when scheduling a trial. Instead, our courts rely on four factors established in the case of Barker v. Wingo to decide whether a trial has been unlawfully delayed.

Speedy Trial Factors

1.      The Length of The Delay

Criminal offenses have a widespread level of severity and consequences, so the amount of time allotted before a trial is directly impacted by the nature of the crime itself. Generally, delays for minor crimes are considered to be less acceptable than delays for serious crimes that may lead to more complex cases.

2.      The Reason for the Delay

There are three main reasons why a court case may be delayed:

  • Weaken a defense against the government
  • Overscheduled courts
  • Unavailable witnesses

Naturally, delaying a court date when witnesses are unavailable is generally considered reasonable. The prior two reasons could potentially be worth investigating by the court as a violation of the right to a speedy trial, however.  

3.      The Defendant’s Assertion of His/Her Right

In order to have success proving an individual’s Sixth Amendment rights were violated, they must first assert their right to a speedy trial.  The failure to announce your right early in the process will make it more difficult to prove that the right was violated down the line.

4.      The Degree of Prejudice Toward the Defendant

Barker v. Wingo outlines three types of prejudice a defendant can suffer after a criminal accusation:

  • Pretrial anxiety
  • Unlawful pretrial incarceration
  • Impairment of one’s defense

Of these three factors, the impairment of one’s defense is most heavily considered in court.

Ensure Your Right to a Speedy Trial is Honored with Elizabeth Anu Lawrence Law

Convictions of any kind can damage your future reputation, financial security, employment or housing opportunities, and rights as a citizen; having strong legal defense can help you in dismissing your charges, exploring your best options, or representing you in court.  The Law Office of Elizabeth A. Lawrence offers high-quality legal representation, personal attention, and professionalism to help defend those who need it most.  Click here or call (410) 986-0088 to consult with an experienced attorney today.

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