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Drug crimes: Your right to a speedy trial

In all criminal cases, including those involving alleged drug crimes, the defendant has a constitutional right to have a speedy trial. Specifically, it is the Sixth Amendment of the constitution that governs the rights of criminal defendants. Arguably, one of the most important of these rights is the guarantee that defendants will not be subjected to unnecessary delay.

The right to a speedy trial protects the defendant from languishing in a jail cell for an unreasonable or indefinite amount of time before his or her trial. Wisconsin legislature makes the matter crystal clear by setting deadlines and time limits in which a defendant is brought to trial.

-- For misdemeanors, the trial will take place within 60 days of the defendant's first court appearance.

-- For felonies, the trial will take place within 90 days of either party's (the defense or the prosecution) written or recorded demand.

-- In cases where the court cannot schedule the trial, it will request the assignment of an alternate judge.

-- Defendants who were not tried in accordance with the speedy trial laws, "shall be discharged from custody but the obligations of the bond or other conditions of release shall continue."

Speedy trial violations in Wisconsin are rare and can be difficult to prove. If the defendant and his or her attorney feel any delay of the trial is unnecessary, it is beneficial to look at the elements of the delay. These can include the length of the delay, the reason given for the delay and other factors unique to the case at hand.

Criminal defense attorneys who represent those accused of drug crimes are quite familiar with the Sixth Amendment. It is wise to trust your attorney if he or she indicates your rights under this important constitutional amendment have been violated.

Source: Wisconsin State legislature, "Speedy trial," accessed Nov. 02, 2015

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