Trials in the Fast Lane: Speedy Trial Right under the Sixth Amendment and Article 1, Section 12

January 04, 2017

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy and public trial. But how much speed is required? The Supreme Court of the United States has described the right to a speedy trial as “slippery” and “amorphous.” The Supreme Court of the United States has also indicated that, while the right to a speedy trial is one of the rights provided to criminal defendants, it is different to the extent that it may be better for the public than it is for a defendant. Specifically, the State, which has the burden to prove guilt, may have a difficult time finding witnesses or evidence years after an alleged crime has occurred. Additionally, some fear that having individuals that will ultimately be convicted out in the streets and able to commit additional crimes is dangerous. As a result, the Supreme Court of the United States has determined that Sixth Amendment speedy trial are relative to the circumstances of the situation and are not tied to a specific time frame.

However, Indiana has put in place additional protections for criminal defendants to better protect speedy trial rights. Article 1, Section 12 of the Indiana Constitution requires that “Justice shall be administered freely, and without purchase; completely, and without denial; speedily, and without delay.” Unlike the federal right to speedy trial, Indiana has put a specific time period within which defendants must be tried or they must be released. Rule 4 of the Indiana Rules of Criminal Procedure requires that, if a defendant has been ordered on pre-trial release (more information on release here:, they must be brought to trial within one year from the date of their arrest or the date of the charges. If trial is not started within that time frame, the criminal charges against the defendant should be dismissed. If a defendant is incarcerated, they must be brought to trial within six months from the date of their arrest or the date of the charges. If they are not tried in that time, they are to be put on pre-trial release and held to the one year standard.

However, those time frames are not absolute. The requirements of Rule 4 are subject to a defendant’s actions. If a case is delayed at the defendant’s request or because the defendant has failed to appear at hearings in the matter, those delays are not counted towards the one year requirement. Additionally, court congestion, if properly noted by the Court, is a delay that is not counted towards the one year deadline. Finally, Courts can grant extensions of 30 to 90 days in addition to the 1 year rule for various scenarios involving the defendant’s actions and evidence production.

If you are facing time in jail and want your rights protected, contact the attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case. Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.