The Bill of Rights – The Speedy Trial

By Aazdak Alisimo

As you’ve probably seen on television and the movies, you have the right to a speedy trial as an American citizen. So, what exactly exactly is this speedy trial stuff about?

As citizens of the United States, you have certain inalienable rights. These include things such as the right to the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and other civil liberties. The pillars of these rights are found in the Constitution. The sixth amendment of the constitution provides us with the right to a speedy and public trial.

So, who cares if you have the right to a speedy trial? What’s the big rush? Well, we have to look at other countries to get a better idea. Many authoritative regimes have touted themselves as democratic in nature. To one extent or another, they hold up the fact that they guarantee a right to trial to their citizens.

The problem, however, is in the details. They don’t offer a speedy trial. Instead, they arrest citizens and then let them sit in jail for years while waiting to go on trial. In some countries, they might wait up to ten years before getting their day in court. In a vast majority of these cases, the defendants are in jail because they object to actions being taken by the government.

The constitutional right to a speedy trial keeps the U.S. government from putting citizens in jail for a prolonged period. Following 9-11, the Bush administration has been roundly criticized for violating this notion via the Guantanamo Bay facility where prisoners have been held without any trials for years. The US Supreme Court has rejected the position of the Bush Administration and trials have begun.

So, how long can you sit in jail before the right to a speedy trial becomes an issue? It depends on the situation, but six months is generally a cut off period. Murder cases can be much longer. Ironically, most defendants do not invoke the right to a speedy trial as they want their attorneys to have time to mount a defence. In such cases, a defendant can waive his or her right to the speedy trial.

Aazdak Alisimo writes []criminal law articles for where you can find a []criminal defense lawyer near you.

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