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When You Should Exercise Your Right to a Speedy Trial


The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of defendants in criminal cases to a speedy trial. This is an important right because it ensures that individuals accused of crimes do not languish behind bars, or with the looming threat of incarceration, for an indefinite amount of time. When the prosecution violates the defendant’s right to a speedy trial, the court could order that the charges against the defendant be dismissed.

While NJ defendants do possess their constitutional rights to a speedy trial, however, there is no set time limit for bringing a criminal case to trial in New Jersey. That’s why it is imperative that anyone charged with a crime in NJ have a qualified criminal defense attorney on their side very early in the process. A knowledgeable criminal attorney will make sure that you do not relinquish your constitutional rights, including your right to a speedy trial.

Asserting Your Constitutional Right to a Speedy Trial in a Timely Fashion

The moment you are arrested or arraigned, whichever comes first, the legal process has begun and the “clock” begins ticking for trial.

One important element of the right to a speedy trial is that this right must be asserted in a timely fashion. That’s because it is an affirmative defense in criminal cases, which means that it negates criminal liability independent of whether the defendant committed the alleged acts. However, as an affirmative defense, the right to a speedy trial is effectively waived if the defendant fails to file the proper motion within the required timeframe. For instance, if you wait until the date of trial to suddenly claim that too much time has passed since your arrest and/or arraignment, it will likely be too late.

The truth is that the legal process is very complicated and requires a nuanced understanding of many different aspects of the law, including the US Constitution and various forms of legal procedure. Moreover, winning a trial in situations that involve speedy trial motions is extremely difficult, which is why you are going to need a qualified criminal defense attorney handling your case and filing the dismissal motions.

Winning Your Motion to Dismiss on Speedy Trial Grounds

After your criminal defense attorney files a motion to dismiss because your right to a speedy trial has been violated, the judge will consider four factors and determine whether the motion should be granted. These factors come directly from the US Supreme Court and were set forth in Barker v. Wingo, a first degree murder case. In Barker v. Wingo, the Court ruled that dismissal on speedy trial grounds should be based on the following:

  1. The length of the delay.
  2. The reasons for the delay.
  3. Whether the defendant actually asserted their right to a speedy trial.
  4. The extent to which the defendant was prejudiced by the delay.


If you have been charged with a crime in New Jersey, you need a qualified criminal defense attorney on your side. The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC can help you fight your charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.

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