The Sixth Amendment gives you the right to a ‘speedy trial.’ What does that mean?
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides for multiple rights and protections for people accused of crimes. One of the most crucial aspects of the Sixth Amendment guarantees you the right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury. However, a speedy trial doesn’t mean you should rush through the trial process.
Instead, a speedy trial means that the defendant has a right to be brought to trial within a reasonably short time after arrest. Also, the defendant has the right to be tried by a jury of their peers.
The Sixth Amendment doesn’t specify an exact time frame for speedy trials. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has analyzed prior cases to determine what classifies as a “short time” for a speedy trial.
The Supreme Court laid out several factors to determine whether the trial is speedy enough. Such factors include the length of the delay, the reason for the delay, and the defendant’s assertion of their right to a speedy trial. These factors are helpful for guidance, but the idea of a “speedy” trial is still somewhat subjective and often based on the circumstances of the district where the charges were filed.
In Florida, if the defendant doesn’t agree to a plea deal to avoid a trial, the policy is to bring the defendant to trial within 90 days of arrest if the offense is a misdemeanor. If you are accused of a felony, the trial typically begins within 175 days of the arrest. If the defendant’s trial doesn’t begin within the period stated, the court should provide a remedy for the defendant.
It’s important to note that a defendant can demand a speedy trial. You can ask for a trial within 60 days or file a pleading with the court for a speedy trial. Before doing any of these things — and before speaking with police or investigators — it’s important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.