Some Pennsylvania police officers would have defendants facing criminal charges believe that they have little to no rights. This is incredibly inaccurate, as defendants have several rights that protect them from unjust authorities and illegal action. Most people understand that they have the right to a counsel who can help them craft the best possible criminal defense, but not everyone is aware of their right to a speedy trial.

The right to a speedy trial with an impartial jury is protected by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. But just how fast is “speedy” supposed to be? Although Pennsylvania requires that trials take place within a certain period of time following the filing of criminal charges, various circumstances can extend this period. Delays can postpone a person’s trial, but the circumstances that necessitated the delay determine whether it was a violation of the Sixth Amendment. When a trial is unreasonably postponed in a manner that is prejudicial against the defendant, the case may be dismissed.

The Sixth Amendment also guarantees that defendants will face their criminal trial before an impartial jury. Aside from the obvious implications that jurors who are obviously biased may not be selected, it also means that the jury should be representative of the local community. Although the inability to find impartial jurors might delay a trial, it is usually not an issue.

It is incredibly important that the rights of Pennsylvania defendants be upheld as they face criminal charges. These rights — including those to a speedy trial and counsel — are essential for criminal defense proceedings. When a defendant is worried that his or her rights are being violated, he or she may seek guidance from an experienced counsel, who can help focus on achieving the best outcome for the unique situation.

Source: FindLaw, “Right to a Speedy Jury Trial“, Accessed on Dec. 3, 2017