The Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment

Sixth Amendment

What is the right to a speedy trial?

The right to a speedy trial means that the government must commence prosecution within a reasonable amount of time. The speedy-trial right means that the government cannot simply let a defendant have an indictment hang over his or her head without further action. The U.S. Supreme Court considers four factors in determining whether a defendant’s speedy-trial rights have been infringed. They are: (1) whether delay before trial was uncommonly long; (2) whether the government or the criminal defendant is more to blame for that delay; (3) whether the defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial; and (4) and whether the defendant suffered prejudice from the delay.


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