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What is My Right to a Speedy Trial When Facing Criminal Charges?

If you are facing criminal charges in Rochester or elsewhere in upstate New York, you may know that you have what is known as a right to a speedy trial. Yet in practice, what does a “speedy trial” mean, and where do those rights come from? Further, do you have a right to a speedy trial in all types of criminal cases, or does the right to a speedy trial only apply in certain circumstances? An experienced Rochester criminal defense lawyer at our firm can provide you with more information about the right to a speedy trial in New York and can begin working with you on defense strategies for your case.

Right to a Speedy Trial Under the U.S. Constitution

The U.S. Constitution guarantees a defendant a right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment, but it does not specify the length of time that would be within an understood definition of “speedy.” In other words, you have a right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment, but the Constitution does not say specifically how quickly your criminal trial must be convened. This is the relevant language of the Sixth Amendment:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

Timetable for a Speedy Trial in Federal Criminal Cases

If you are facing criminal charges under federal law, then the Speedy Trial Act expressly states the amount of time in which a criminal trial must begin. The Speedy Trial Act says that an indictment must occur either within 30 days from the date of your arrest, or from the date of your service of summons. Then, the Speedy Trial Act requires that your criminal trial begin within 70 days from the date your indictment was filed, or within 70 days from the date that you first appeared before the court. With regard to that 70-day period, whichever of those two dates comes later will start that 70-day clock. 

The Speedy Trial Act also provides some protections to the defendant to ensure that the defendant is not required to go to trial too soon, making it difficult for a defendant to properly prepare a defense. Indeed, the Speedy Trial Act says that a federal criminal trial cannot begin any sooner than 30 days from the date of your first appearance.

Timetable for a Speedy Trial in New York State Criminal Cases

Not all states have their own statutes concerning the right to a speedy trial under state law, but New York does. Under New York law, a criminal trial must begin within one of the appropriate time frames:

  • 6 months from the date the criminal action was commenced if the defendant is accused of at least one felony offense;
  • 90 days from the date the criminal action was commenced if the defendant is accused of one or more offenses that includes a misdemeanor that would be punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than three months, and the defendant is not accused of any felony offenses; 
  • 60 days from the date the criminal action was commenced if the defendant is accused of one or more offenses that includes a misdemeanor that would be punishable by a term of imprisonment of no more than three months, and the defendant is not accused of any offenses that could be punished with a term of imprisonment of more than three months; or
  • 30 days from the date the criminal action was commenced, but the offense is only a violation and the defendant is not accused of a criminal offense.

Contact Our Rochester Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you need assistance with your criminal defense case, our Rochester criminal defense attorneys are here to help you. Contact King Law today.

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