Your Right to a Speedy Trial in Missouri

A depiction of a judge determining if a defendant’s right to a speedy trial has been violated in Missouri.

According to the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, all criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to a speedy and public trial, among many other rights. If this right is denied, the case may be dismissed. 

Generally, the Constitution guarantees a speedy trial to prevent defendants from being held in jail for too long before they have a chance at trial. Further, a speedy trial enables your criminal defense lawyer to gather and present recent evidence at trial. 

While a speedy trial is the best option in some cases, it’s sometimes advisable to waive this right. Speak with a criminal defense lawyer at Kirsch & Kirsch today to discuss your options. 

Continue reading to learn more about speedy trials in Missouri. 

What Makes a Trial “Speedy”? 

According to Mo. Rev. Stat § 545.780, when a defendant requests a speedy trial, the court must set a date for the trial as soon as reasonably possible – while exceptions apply, nine months is assumed to be too long of a delay.

However, per the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, speedy trials for federal crimes must commence within 70 days from the date of the indictment or when the defendant first appears in court for the pending charge. 

It’s important to note that if you waive your right to a speedy trial, there is no guarantee that your trial will be held in a timely manner. It’s essential to discuss the pros and cons of demanding a speedy trial with your criminal defense attorney before requesting one. 

Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney may advise you to waive your rights or demand a trial as fast as possible. 

Pros and Cons of a Speedy Trial 

There are many benefits to demanding a speedy trial. They include but are not limited to: 

  • Your criminal trial is fast-tracked 
  • The prosecution has less time to prepare
  • You can avoid unnecessary time in jail while awaiting trial 
  • Reduces the anxiety while waiting for a trial 

While there are plenty of good reasons to demand a timely trial, there are also many reasons why your attorney may advise you against it. For example, if your attorney needs more time to prepare a solid defense, demanding a speedy trial could work against you. 

Should I Waive My Right to a Speedy Trial? 

Whether you should demand a speedy trial or not depends on the circumstances of your case. Generally, your attorney may recommend waiving your right in the following situations, but every case is unique: 

  • They need more time to prepare their criminal defense strategy.
  • It’s been difficult identifying and tracking down witnesses.
  • You’re out of jail on bail, bond, or your own recognizance, and you want to spend more time with family and friends before trial. 

Every case is different. If you’re unsure about the effect of demanding a speedy trial in your case, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Missouri criminal defense lawyer to discuss the best strategies for your circumstances. 

What Can Happen if One’s Rights to a Speedy Trial is Denied? 

Suppose you demand a speedy trial, but the court does not grant one. In that case, your charges may be dismissed. However, it’s essential to note that proving you’ve been denied a right to a speedy trial requires case-specific evidence. 

Unavoidable delays are not considered a violation of the right, such as: 

  • Defendant approved continuances 
  • Delays resulting from motions 
  • Exceptional circumstances (i.e., pandemic, catastrophic weather, etc.)
  • Any other delays caused by the defendant 

How Does The Court Determine if The Right to a Speedy Trial is Denied? 

Determining what constitutes a reasonable delay and what doesn’t is an art rather than a science. The courts must carefully consider the following elements on a case-by-case basis before deciding if a defendant’s right to a speedy trial has been denied: 

  1. How long the trial was delayed
  2. The reasons for the delay 
  3. Whether the defendant went through the proper channels to assert their right 
  4. Potential prejudices against the defendant

Contact a Jefferson City Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Are you considering a speedy trial demand in Missouri? If so, it’s in your best interest to consult with a proven criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Kirsch & Kirsch today at 573-222-0826 to discuss whether a speedy trial is best for your particular circumstances.