Right to a Speedy Trial


Right to a Speedy Trial

Under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution you are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial in the criminal courts. A Motion for Speedy Trial must be filed to practice this right.Under the federal Constitution, there is no exact measurement of what is considered speedy. However, many states have laws specifying the amount of time within which prosecutors have to bring defendants to trial.

In California, if you are charged with a felony, you must go to trial within sixty (60) days of arraignment unless there is good cause for delay. (California Penal Code § 1382) You, as the defendant, can always waive the speedy trial by agreeing to the proceedings moving slower than what the law provides. Reasons for the Right to a Speedy Trial

•In order to avoid a lengthy unfounded imprisonment

•In order to minimize the anxiety of awaiting trial

•In order to protect your ability to defend the charges brought against you, i.e. evidence could disappear; witnesses' memories can fade over time.


If a defendant were to claim a violation, the court would then apply a “balancing test” measuring the following:

•Length of the delay

•Reason for the delay

•Whether the defendant asserted the speedy trial right (a motion must be filed)

•Whether the wait compromised the defense.

Starting the Clock

In a felony proceeding, from the date of the entry of a not guilty plea to the charges, you have the right to a trial within sixty (60) calendar days. You can agreed to waive your right to a speedy trial beyond that period and set a trial date. If you do waive your right, you have a right to a trial on that date or within ten (10) days of the date you set. The date you set is considered day zero and the following day would be day one. Your trial is considered “started” once it is assigned to a court and the judge devotes his/her attention to your case in any significant way. They must at the very least handle routine matters, but your case takes priority. If the judge begins hearing pre-trial motions, jury selection or any other initial matters, your trial has “started” for the purpose of speedy trial rights.


If a convicted defendant can establish a violation of this right, the court must set aside the conviction, vacate the sentence, and dismiss the charge. And, if the case has not yet gone to trial, the court must then generally dismiss the charges.

Do you have questions about a case? Visalia and Bakersfield area criminal defense attorneys at Martens & Brusseau can assist you with criminal charges. With years of criminal defense experience, our firm has handled thousands of cases.  Attorneys here have the skills and knowledge needed to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia, Fresno, and Bakersfield areas, Martens & Brusseau can provide expert criminal defense counsel. CONTACT US AT 559-302-9722 OR 661-466-2142 TODAY



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