Legal Updates

The Right to a Speedy Trial

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.”

The United States Supreme Court has held that it is impossible to determine exactly when a State has denied a defendant this constitutional right.  In Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), the Court identified four factors to be considered in making the evaluation: (1) length of the delay; (2) reason for the delay; (3) defendant’s assertion of his rights; and (4) prejudice to the defendant.  Noe that the third factor is assertion of the defendant’s right.  Thus, if an attorney does not raise the right to a speedy trial issue, it will not be addressed.

The defendant’s right to a speedy trial protects him from the inevitable curtailment of opportunities that comes with criminal prosecution.  The rights are given practical effect in the speedy trial rules adopted by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth.  An attorney may file a motion to dismiss for violation of a Speedy Trial Rule. If you believe your case is eligible for such a motion, and you need a lawyer, contact The Law Office of Mark D. Copoulos.