question archive The Sixth Amendment to the U

The Sixth Amendment to the U

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The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a right to a speedy trial in all criminal cases. The Constitution does not define speedy, and courts have had trouble deciding what this

means. To remedy this problem, the federal government and

some states have set specific time limits within which a case

must be brought to trial. Without the right to a speedy trial as

an element of due process, an innocent person could await

trial—in jail—for years.


If a person does not receive a speedy trial, the case may be dis-

missed. However, defendants often waive their right to a speedy


trial because of the unavailability of an important witness or because

they need more time to prepare their cases. Before dismissing a case,

courts will consider the cause and reasons for the delay and whether

the defendant was free on bail or in jail during the pretrial period.


Problem 14.2


a.  Why is the right to a speedy trial important?


b.  How soon after arrest should a person be brought to trial?  What are some reasons for and against bringing a defendant to trial quickly?


c.  Do you think that televising criminal trials is a good idea?  Explain


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