After you have been charged with a crime, there are two primary paths you can take in regard to your defense. In many circumstances, you may want to enter a plea, which often involves negotiating with the prosecutor to secure the best terms possible. By entering a plea, you will be able to quickly receive your sentence, which can save you both time and money. But agreeing to a plea bargain is not always in your best interests.
If you believe that the prosecution lacks the evidence needed to get a conviction, or if the plea terms being offered are too severe, you can have your case heard by a judge and jury. Now, while this route is more time consuming, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensures that you have the right to a speedy trial.
Essentially, the right to a speedy trial means that your trial must be scheduled to start within a reasonable time after an arrest. And a case could even be dismissed if a court decides that a trial was delayed to the point of being prejudicial and detrimental to the defendant.
But understand that each case has its own complexities and what constitutes a speedy trial for a drunk driving charge can be very different from that for a drug trafficking charge. This is because both the prosecution and the defense need a reasonable amount of time to prepare their respective cases. In fact, you could be at a severe disadvantage if your case is rushed too quickly to trial.
You have the right to a speedy trial, but also to a fair trial. And an experienced criminal defense attorney can assess your case and work to make sure that the time frame within which your trial starts is reasonable and works to your advantage.