If you have been accused of a crime, then the US Constitution grants you several rights to ensure that you receive fair treatment from the authorities. One of these is the right to a speedy and public trial. If this right is violated, then you can go to court to seek a remedy. Once you do this, there are several questions for which the court will seek answers to determine whether this right has been violated. Here are four essential ones:
What Caused the Delay?
The reasons for the delay are important because some may be:
For example, it is impractical to continue with the trial if you don't have legal representation if you are entitled to one. An example of a self-induced delay is an adjournment requested by your lawyer. Note that the state allows you to waive the right to speedy trial; don't do this without your lawyer's consent or advice.
How Long Was the Delay?
Each jurisdiction determines how long the prosecution has to try you. According to legalmatch.com, periods ranging from 60 to 120 days are common for defendants in custody. However, just because you have been in custody for 125 days doesn't mean that your rights have been violated. The longer you remain in custody before trial, the higher your chances of proving that the prosecution is violating your right to speedy trial. Therefore, you have a stronger case if you have exceeded the limit by several months or more.
Has the Delay Caused You Any Hardship?
A delayed prosecution is bad, but it's worse if it has interfered with your defense. Some forms of interferences are easy to prove. Consider a case where you have been accused of stabbing another person with a knife, but you deny ever handling the knife. Suppose your prosecution is delayed so much that the knife is lost. You can argue that you have lost the opportunity to prove that the knife did not have your fingerprints, and hence the delay has prejudiced your case.
Other forms of prejudice may not be easy to prove, such as interference with a witnesses' memory. However, a skilled defense attorney can convince the court of this fact too.
Did You Assert Your Right to a Speedy Trial?
Lastly, the court will also examine whether you demanded your right to a speedy trial. This is something you should do early in the case so that the prosecution is aware of it, and you can hold them accountable for any delays after that. In fact, it also makes sense to complain whenever the prosecution does something that unnecessarily prolongs your time in custody, for example if a trial date is postponed without clear reasons.
If you think your right to a speedy trial has been violated, then consult a professional attorney, like those at Alvine & King LLP, to evaluate these and other relevant factors. If you have a strong case, then he or she may succeed in getting your case dismissed or sentence vacated.