When Does Your Right to a Speedy Trial Come into Play?

One of the rights that the Sixth Amendment provides is your right to a speedy trial. While this right has been tempered – any delay has to have been caused by the government, has to prejudice your case, has to be uncommonly long, and you have to exercise your right to a speedy trial – it is still an important one to have. Allowing the government to take its time in bringing its case against you to trial can have severe impacts on your life, as you wait in limbo, itching to fight against a federal charge like embezzlement or drug conspiracy.

An important aspect of the Sixth Amendment’s right to a speedy trial is how long that right lasts. When the right begins, or “attaches,” and when it ends, or “detaches,” are crucial because you can only count on it between those two points.

The Three Parts of a Criminal Case

The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized that there are three distinct parts of a criminal case.

The first is the investigation stage. This stage begins when law enforcement first starts to gather evidence of a crime or legal infraction. It ends when the suspect gets charged for a crime.

The second stage is the trial stage, and lasts from the criminal charge, through the trial, and to the verdict at the end of the trial.

Finally, the third stage is sentencing, and only applies if you are found guilty after a trial, or plead guilty before the trial. This stage begins at the guilty plea or verdict, and lasts until the sentence gets handed down by the court.

Your Right to a Speedy Trial Attaches to a Criminal Charge

Only when the criminal charge is filed against you does you right to a speedy trial “turn on.” However, this does not mean that investigation stage – which happens before the charge – can last forever: There are statutes of limitations that require the investigation stage to happen quickly, as well.

Your Speedy Trial Right Ends After Trial

While it had long been known that your right to a speedy trial began with the criminal charge, it had not been settled when that right “turned off,” or detached. However, a recent Supreme Court case made this decision: Your right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment ends with the trial.

Importantly, this means that your right to a speedy trial does not include the sentencing portion of a criminal case. However, just like there are statutes of limitations that push the investigation stage into motion, there are other ways to make the sentencing stage move along, as well, such as your right to Due Process under the Fifth Amendment.

The Federal Criminal Law Center Defends Your Rights

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you need legal representation that will fight for your rights and interests in court. Our attorneys can advocate on your behalf and get the best outcome possible, as quickly as possible. Contact the Federal Criminal Law Center online.