Understanding Your Constitutional Right to a Speedy Trial in South Carolina
The 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution holds that “(i)n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” It also holds that:
- The jury shall be an impartial jury of the State and district where the crime was committed;
- The accused will be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation(s) made against them;
- The accused has the right to be confronted with the witnesses against them;
- The accused has the right to obtain witnesses in their favor; and
- The accused has the right to have an attorney represent them in their defense.
The right to a speedy trial is considered to be fundamental to anyone accused of a crime, and it exists to prevent accused persons from being incarcerated for a crime they may not even be guilty of. Most states also have statutes that provide their citizens the same right to a speedy trial, although how it is enforced may vary by jurisdiction.
At Boatwright Legal, we provide solid criminal defense. If you are facing criminal charges, having competent legal representation on your side is essential. Call (864) 745-9758 or contact us online to schedule a Free Initial Consultation.
What Factors Do South Carolina Courts Consider to Grant a Speedy Trial?
While the Constitution is clear that the accused has a right to a “speedy” trial, it does not clarify what speedy means. There are some criteria most courts will consider when deciding whether or not the accused's right to a speedy trial has been violated. These include:
- How long the trial was delayed
- The reason the trial was delayed
- Whether or not the delay compromised the accused's defense
- Whether or not the accused has asserted their right to a speedy trial
Individual states may have more concrete benchmarks for determining whether or not an accused's right to a speedy trial has been violated.
How a Defense Attorney in South Carolina Uses Speedy Trial to Your Advantage
It may be in a defendant's best interest to press the prosecution to proceed with the trial when defense counsel does not feel the prosecution will be ready to proceed. Often, state counsel is overworked and underfunded. This can cause them to have problems being ready to proceed to a speedy trial. Although, insisting that the state proceed quickly can backfire if the defense is not ready to proceed. It is likely that any request for a continuance will be denied.
The Risks of a Speedy Trial in South Carolina
While the right to a speedy trial is guaranteed in the United States Constitution, it may be in the best interest of a defendant to waive that right. In many cases, the defense needs additional time to prepare their case so that the defendant has the best defense possible. Reasons a defendant may want their trial delayed are:
- To have time to find witnesses
- To have time to gather evidence
- To conduct depositions
- To conduct discovery
Whether or not it is in a defendant's best interest to waive the right to a speedy trial is an issue best addressed by defense counsel.
Consequences of Speedy Trial Violations in South Carolina
A defendant's right to a speedy trial may be violated in a number of different ways, including when the trial is intentionally delayed. Also, when the delay is negligent rather than intentional but extensive in length. Either way, when a defendant can prove that their right to a speedy trial has been violated, it may cause their conviction to be overturned or their indictment dismissed.
To ensure you move through the criminal justice system fairly, you should retain counsel as soon as possible. Call Boatwright Legal today at (864) 745-9758 or contact us online to schedule a Free Initial Consultation.