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Understanding Your Right To A Speedy Trial


When you first get arrested, the most important of your Constitutional rights as a defendant is your right to remain silent and to avoid self-incrimination.  Once you have met privately with a lawyer and discussed the strategy for your case, though, you start to appreciate the importance of the right to a speedy trial, especially if you cannot afford to pay your bail.  It is unfair to keep people detained in jail when they have not been convicted of a crime.  Therefore, the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to avoid unnecessary delays in the criminal procedure.  This way, within a few months, you will either be free of the criminal charges or you will have received a conviction as the result of a trial or a guilty plea.  For help navigating a legal process that sometimes moves faster than you want it to and sometimes moves slower than you want it to, contact a West Palm Beach federal crimes lawyer.

Rules Were Made to Be Broken

When the criminal case begins with police officers seeing a defendant engaging in what they believe is a criminal act and convicting the defendant on the spot, the arraignment takes place about three days later.  An arraignment is a court appearance where the judge reads the charges to the defendant and the defendant enters a plea.  If the case begins with an indictment, where a grand jury decides that the state has grounds to charge the defendant with a crime, then the arraignment should take place three days after the indictment.  In practice, the arraignment could be a few days or a few weeks later if the defendant was free in the community instead of in jail leading up to the arraignment.

If the defendant pleads not guilty, then the Speedy Trial Act dictates that the trial should begin within 70 days of the arraignment.  The court can pause the clock, however, when the prosecution or defense files a pretrial motion.  Therefore, some cases take longer than 70 days to get to trial.  If your case is taking too long, you can file a motion to speed it up.

Is It Possible for the Criminal Court Process to Move Too Quickly?

It is unfair for the prosecution to make the defendant wait too long for the trial, but it is also unfair to rush to trial before the defendant has a chance to prepare.  The court should not schedule a trial sooner than 30 days after the arraignment.  If the defendant wants the trial to start less than 30 days after the arraignment, he or she should indicate this in a written request submitted to the court.  Your lawyer can help you decide whether it is a good idea to move your trial date sooner.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 39 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.




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