The U.S. Constitution includes in the Bill of Rights the right to a speedy trial. The Sixth Amendment states in part: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”
The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that there is no unnecessary or unreasonable delay between arrest and trial. It is not the point of our justice system to hold arrestees who have not yet been tried indefinitely. That is contrary to the principle that criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty. If there is a violation of your Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial, that is cause to dismiss your criminal case with prejudice. When the court dismisses a case with prejudice, that means you cannot be re-charged for the same crime and made to go to trial again. An experienced criminal lawyer can explain this to you in greater detail.
Speedy Trial History
In the 1970’s, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that whether or not a criminal defendant has been denied his or her right to a speedy trial is subject to a case-by-case analysis. What that means is there is no set rule to determine if someone’s Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury has been violated. Instead, the court must look at the unique factors in each case to determine if there has been such a violation. In order to determine if there has been a violation, the court has to apply a four-part balancing test. If, after applying the test, the court finds that the delay unfairly prejudiced the defendant, then there is a violation of the Sixth Amendment. The court will weigh the following four factors in determining if there was a violation:
(1) The length of the delay;
(2) The reason for the delay;
(3) When and how the defendant has asserted his or her Sixth Amendment right;
(4) How much prejudice is caused by the delay.
The Supreme Court has found that a 7-month delay due to the illness of the chief investigating officer, while long, is justifiable. A five-year period between the arrest and trial was considered “extraordinary.” A crowded docket with many criminal cases to try is not a sufficiently good reason for excessive delay. If you believe that your right to a speedy trial has been violated then contact a criminal lawyer immediately.
It is possible, and sometimes advisable, to waive your right to a speedy trial. Your experienced criminal defense attorney will know when waiving your right to a speedy trial is the prudent choice.
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However, in order to turn yourself in you have to know that there is a warrant out for you. If you are suspicious that there may be a warrant in a particular city or county, you can go to that city or county’s courthouse. However, there is no guarantee that it will be there. Additionally, you can search a clerk of court’s website
A more effective method of searching for a warrant is to conduct a background search on yourself. There are many websites that allow you to do this for a small fee. These websites will provide you with your criminal record, also called your “rap sheet.” It should include past, present and pending local, state and federal charges. These are the same websites used by employers and landlords when they are considering hiring candidates or leasing to tenants. Simply Google “criminal background check” and choose the company you like best to conduct your background check.
Even if you don’t think you have a criminal record, it is never a bad idea to conduct a period background check on yourself. Sadly, it is not uncommon to find mistakes. It’s possible that you share a name with a criminal. If you find a mistake on your record, contact a criminal attorney to discuss your options for having the mistake rectified.
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