A legal philosophy built on honesty

The Law Library – “Fast And Speedy Trial”

Published in Criminal Law on October 2, 2015.

Today is another post about the common misconceptions about criminal law that run through jails all over the state of Indiana.  Every criminal defense lawyer likes to have a client who is informed, participating and engaged in their case.  Unfortunately, due to a lot of bad advice and misunderstanding of the law the phrase “I have been to the law library” has come to signal to criminal attorneys that they are going to have to dispel something their client believes to be the absolute truth.

I want a fast and speedy trial!

Many times people who find themselves incarcerated are understandably scared and angry. Their first reaction may be to want to get their situation resolved as quickly as possible. Many people hear the term “fast and speedy trial” while in jail and hear that it is always a good idea.

What is a Fast and Speedy Trial?

In Indiana, fast and speedy trial rights are dictated by Indiana Criminal Procedure Rule 4.  This rule allows for a defendant to be released from jail at certain deadlines if they have not been taken to trial. If the defendant is not released by the deadlines and is not tried the defense may ask for the case to be dismissed. There are exceptions to this rule.

What are the deadlines?

If someone is in jail and they request a fast and speedy trial they should have their trial within 70 days of the request or be released from jail. If the person in jail does not ask for the fast and speedy trial they should still be tried within six (6) months from the later of the date of charge or the arrest date or be released from jail.

Regardless of whether or not someone is in jail if they are not brought to trial within one year from the date of their arrest or the date the charges were filed their case may be dismissed. Any delays caused by the defense will be added as an extension to the deadline.

What are the exceptions?

The most common exception to this rule is court congestion. If the court is too busy to have the trial the individual may be kept in jail or kept waiting for his trial. Some courts have tried to work around this rule and have not given dates with any legitimate chance of the trial going. The case law on Criminal Rule 4 can be fairly tricky. It can be difficult to determine what a legitimate reason for court congestion is and which delays should be charged to the defense or the state. It is best to have a criminal attorney on your side to walk you through the law.

What are the benefits and the risks?

Every case is different. Sometimes a fast and speedy trial is a really good idea. There are other times that demanding a speedy trial can backfire. If it is unlikely the state will be able to be prepared in time for trial a fast and speedy demand could be a good idea. Unfortunately, in most cases the state won’t file the charges if they are not ready to take the case to trial. There are times when evidence or witnesses are missing and giving the state more time would harm our clients. There are times someone cannot post their bond and seem to have a very solid defense against the state’s allegations. This is another instance where a fast and speedy trial may be a good idea.

There are a few reasons that a fast and speedy trial could also have a negative impact on the defendant. In criminal law, like most aspects of life, every action creates a reaction. Many prosecutor’s hate the idea of a fast and speedy trial. This demand may cut off negotiations thus limiting options. Sometimes people can’t be found to testify after a while, or their memories change. The fast and speedy demand can also affect the ability of a criminal defense lawyer to property investigate and prepare for trial. The possibility of defense witnesses being excluded exists if the state is not noticed of witnesses in a timely fashion.

It is always best to discuss your options about a fast and speedy trial with a criminal defense attorney who has trial experience and can advise you whether your initial reaction is actually a good idea or not.

If you have a case pending, make sure you have a criminal defense lawyer who knows what your fast and speedy rights are and how to use them to your benefit. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Eskew Law to discuss your case.

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