The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights states that, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury…” But what constitutes a “speedy trial,” and how is this standard maintained for all defendants?
The Amendment was constructed in this way to protect American defendants from potential abuse by the courts—and as a response to abuses by British colonial courts, where defendants were sometimes detained for extended periods without charge or trial. Today, it helps an overburdened court system ensure that cases are adjudicated within a reasonable period and without undue hardship to defendants.
While the U.S. Constitution offers provision for a speedy trial, it does not set out specific benchmarks—rather it relies on the community standard of what is a ”reasonable” time between arrest and trial.
In 1974, the Speedy Trial Act attempted to codify “speedy” by setting various time limits for federal prosecutions. Under the Act, an indictment must follow arrest by no more than 30 days, and trial must follow indictment by no more than 70 days—making the maximum time from arrest to trial for federal crimes at 100 days.
Factors that can influence whether the U.S. speedy trial standard is being met may include:
- Length of delay
- Cause of delay
- Defendant’s assertion of rights
- Prejudice to the defendant
In Georgia, a defendant may, through an attorney, file a motion demanding a speedy trial. Judges tend to look for reasons to deny speedy trial demands, so if you are planning to file such a motion, ensure that all forms and steps are completed accurately—this will increase the chances that your motion will be accepted.
If you do file a speedy trial motion successfully, it still could mean a delay until trial. For most crimes, the State of Georgia is required to bring charges against a defendant within two terms of court—three terms for offenses that carry a potential life sentence. Terms of court vary by county but usually range between 3 and 6 months per term. So for less serious offenses, the delay may be between 6 months to 1 year, while for serious offenses, the wait may be 9 to 18 months.
Waiving Your Right to a Speedy Trial
In some situations, you may find that waiving your right to a speedy trial can offer you a strategic advantage in court. For example, if you are charged in a complex case with several co-defendants and a large amount of evidence to process, your attorney may suggest you waive your right to a speedy trial to allow your legal counsel more time to prepare a strong defense. Opting for the delay can also allow your attorney to gather witnesses favorable to your case.
We hope this post has helped you better understand the legal system and your rights within it. At Bond James Bond, we understand how important it is to maintain the normal pace of work and family life, even if you’ve been charged with a crime. Each day, our professional bond agents work with defendants to help them meet the conditions of pretrial release. Why await trial in jail? Contact Bond James Bond today, and discover how a licensed bond agent can be your best ally.
Bond, James Bond, Inc. can handle any size or type of Georgia bail bonds in Barrow County, Bartow County, Cherokee County, Clarke County, Cobb County, Floyd County, Gordon County, Gwinnett County, Paulding County and Polk County. We are always open - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. We have 11 locations that are conveniently located to serve you better.