As an accused in the United States you have a number of rights and privileges granted to you by the U.S. Constitution and/or the Nebraska State Constitution. Among those rights is the right to a speedy trial. Most people have heard of the right to a speedy trial; however, few people actually understand how it works in practice. As a defendant in a criminal prosecution you can get a speedy trial in Nebraska, though there are reasons you may decide to waive your right to a speedy trial. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you do not inadvertently waive your right to a speedy trial.
Your right to a speedy trial can be found in both the U.S. and Nebraska State Constitutions. Specifically, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution read, in pertinent part, as follows:
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”
Article I-11 of the Nebraska State Constitution is where the state counterpart to the 6th Amendment can be found, reading as follows:
“In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to appear and defend in person or by counsel, to demand the nature and cause of accusation, and to have a copy thereof; to meet the witnesses against him face to face; to have process to compel the attendance of witnesses in his behalf; and a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the county or district in which the offense is alleged to have been committed.”
Nebraska Revised Statute 29-1207 sets forth the time frame within which a criminal trial must take place, stating:
“Every person indicted or informed against for any offense shall be brought to trial within six months, and such time shall be computed as provided in this section.”
Despite the six month deadline, it is not uncommon for a case to take much longer to actually make it to trial. A common reason for this is that the defendant has intentionally or unintentionally waived his/her right to a speedy trial. The most common way to waive your speedy trial right if by requesting a continuance; however, there are other factors that can result in a waiver of your right to a speedy trial as well, such as your absence from the jurisdiction. As Section 29-1207 states “A defendant is deemed to have waived his or her right to speedy trial when the period of delay resulting from a continuance granted at the request of the defendant or his or her counsel extends the trial date beyond the statutory six-month period;” If you ask for a continuance you may be waiving your right to a speedy trial.
So why would you ever want to intentionally waive your speedy trial right? There are a number of reasons, most involving your defense strategy. As a general rule, for example, the longer it takes a case to get to trial the less likely witnesses are to be available for the trial which may work in your favor.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.