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The Basics of Speedy Trials in Texas

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Federal Crimes

The United States Constitution makes it clear that accused individuals in criminal cases are given the right to a speedy trial. It may seem like a simple concept, but Texas criminal case trials aren’t always so straightforward in this way.

What truly is a speedy trial?

The general idea behind this is that the accused needs to be brought to trial or released from custody within a reasonable amount of time. The government legally can’t lock anyone up in the United States without giving them a trial.

There is some debate and legislation when it comes to the definition of a reasonable timeframe. There is no actual solid time limit but there is a precedent that’s been set by the Supreme Court and that is part of statutory federal and state law.

The four-part test

The United States Supreme Court has come up with a four-part test that allows for the ability to determine this on a case-by-case basis. They will weigh the following:

  • The reason for the delay
  • The length of the delay
  • Whether or not the defendant insisted on their right to get a speedy trial
  • Prejudice toward the defendant

It should be noted that the Supreme Court only offers a baseline to determine violations of this right. State and federal legislators can offer extra protections beyond this. Federal and state law does have additional boundaries in regard to speedy trials and Federal Criminal Defense may be in order.

The Speedy Trial Act defines this right further, stating the federal government has 30 days from the time someone is arrested or served with a summons for arrest to formally charge them. It can take up to an additional 70 days past this date or past the date when the individual appeared before a judicial officer of the court to begin a trial against them.

Criminal case defendants deserve a speedy trial

In Texas, defendants are given the right to a speedy trial under not only the Constitution but also under federal and state guidelines. What that actually means is going to be different for every case. Know your rights.