When the State Fails to Provide a Speedy Trial
The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. Since defendants are presumed innocent until proven otherwise, it makes sense that the Founders believed in giving the accused their day in court as quickly as possible. If that weren’t the case, innocent people might be assumed to be guilty until their names were cleared in a court of law. But what constitutes a speedy trial?
How Fast is Speedy?
Under Maryland law, a criminal case must be tried within 180 days of the counsel or defendant’s appearance in circuit court. If that fails to occur because the State’s case isn’t ready yet and they’ve failed to demonstrate good cause for a delay, the case may be dismissed under the Hicks rule.
Benefits of a Speedy Trial
The benefits to having a speedy trial are many:
- Individuals who have been wrongly accused are able to move on with their lives rather than be saddled with charges indefinitely.
- It will be less challenging to locate witnesses to the event.
- Witnesses to the case will likely remember their experiences more clearly.
- A speedy trial can reduce the time behind bars, since the accused is often jailed while awaiting trial.
Delays to Trial
There are many reasons trials may be delayed, some legitimate, others troublesome:
- Law enforcement may be slow to disclose information to the prosecution, who is then slow to disclose that information to the defense.
- Backlogs in state labs may lead to delays in essential forensic testing.
- Cases that have a lot of evidence may take time to review.
- The prosecution may need more time to prepare due to being short handed.
- It may be difficult to schedule a timely court date due to backlogged court dockets.
- In some situations, the prosecution may intentionally delay the case for their own reasons.
Fighting for a Speedy Trial
When someone’s right to a speedy trial is violated, a defense attorney can charge that the prosecution was sloppy and disordered, which led to unnecessary delays. Finding evidence of intentional delays by prosecution in order to provide more time to search for additional evidence against the defendant could be another tact for an aggressive defense attorney. As the right to a speedy trial was intended to safeguard the presumption of innocence, any unusual or problematic delays might be reason to fight for a case dismissal.
Advocating for You
The dedicated and experienced La Plata & Waldorf criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Hammad S. Matin, P.A. always fight for the best outcomes for you, regardless of the charges, regardless of the circumstances. To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.