If you are accused of a crime, no matter how serious or minor it is, you have a right to a timely trial. This right comes from the 6th Amendment of the US Constitution. Essentially, it means that the government cannot keep you locked up for long until your trial begins.
The duration of the wait is not precisely stated in the US Constitution, nor in its amendment, but each individual state has its own version of this amendment and it is more finely defined therein. California’s legal code requires that the wait is no longer than sixty days with the provision that this period can be longer if there is a good reason for the extension. If you have a skilled and experienced professional as an attorney, you have a better chance of invoking this right.
Where Does This Amendment Come From?
This right is actually not an American invention. In fact, it first came up in the Magna Carta in the 13th century. The nobles of the time forced the King to grant them this right to prevent him from keeping them prisoners without a reasonable cause.
However, the USA version of this right came in 1789, as the Sixth Amendment. IT was revised several times since passed into several acts, but the basic premise is the same – you cannot be held in jail without any charges laid against you and without a trial for too long.
The main reason why this amendment was passed is the human rights movement. Staying in prison for a long time without the right to defend yourself or the way to express yourself is a very stressful and psychologically damaging situation, which is why this amendment looks to prevent that from happening.
What Does ‘Speedy Trial’ Mean
Even though you would think that the legal code is always extremely precise and even nitpicky at times, this particular amendment was a little bit vague when defining the amount of time a person can be held in prison without a trial.
In fact, the definition of the word ‘speedy’ can be quite prone to interpretation. In some cases, the trial has been postponed for over a year without the violation of the Sixth Amendment. In order to understand the reasoning of the courts, you need to understand the factors which can affect the start of a trial.
If the accused claims that his Sixth Amendment rights are being violated, the court needs to apply a balancing test. In this test, several factors are used to assess whether there is a justified cause for the delay or if the rights of the accused are indeed being violated.
The first factor is the duration of the delay. However, this factor alone isn’t enough to determine anything, so it is accompanied by the second factor – the reason for the delay. It is also important whether the accused has asserted their right or not, as well as if it had any effect on the defense.
How Is Time Measured
It is also important to determine when the clock starts ticking for the speedy trial. In most cases, the arrest is the date which is taken as the starting point. From then, the default amount of time the prosecution has to start the trial is 60 days in California.
However, in some cases, the starting point isn’t the arrest, but the day when formal charges were brought against the defendant. Also, if the accused has been evading justice, the time spend hiding does not count towards this amendment.
If you need help with this kind of problem, you should hire a good criminal attorney like https://www.monderlaw.com/ to help you resolve the problem to your benefit.