Speedy Trial Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Speedy Trial, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Speedy Trial?

(n) Speedy trial is the right available to a defendant to demand the conclusion of the trial early so as to complete it before violating the provisions contained in the 5th amendment, which limits the time an accused can be held for trail. By the ‘due process ‘provision contained in 5th amendment the charges against the person need to be dropped if the trail could not be completed before the time limit.

History and Definition of Speedy Trial

The right to a speedy trial is protected by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This right ensures that defendants are not kept in jail for an unreasonable amount of time before their trial begins. The speedy trial clock begins once the defendant has been officially charged and arrested. The length of time deemed as "speedy" depends on various factors, such as the complexity of the case and the number of witnesses involved.

The purpose of the right to a speedy trial is to minimize the amount of time defendants need to spend in jail awaiting trial and to protect them from being subjected to undue pretrial stress and uncertainty. Speedy trials also help to protect the rights of crime victims and witnesses, who may have to wait a long time before the case is brought to trial.

Examples of Speedy Trial

  1. A defendant charged with drug possession demands a speedy trial and the case proceeds to trial within one month of his arrest.

  2. A defendant charged with murder waits in jail for two years before his trial begins. His lawyer argues that this is a violation of his right to a speedy trial.

  3. A defendant charged with assault does not demand a speedy trial and the case drags on for several years due to various delays in court proceedings.

Legal Terms Similar to Speedy Trial

  1. Statute of Limitations: A law that limits the amount of time prosecutors have to file criminal charges against a defendant.

  2. Double Jeopardy: The constitutional principle that prevents a defendant from being tried twice for the same crime.

  3. Habeas Corpus: A legal action in which a person who is detained can challenge the legality of their detention and seek their release.