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Right to a Speedy Trial in Drug Cases

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, criminal justice systemIn all criminal prosecutions, including drug cases, you have a right to a speedy trial. This prevents the state or prosecution from keeping you in jail for an indefinite period of time without trial. However, the right to a speedy trial does not apply to every single stage of a criminal case. It will only arise after you are arrested or otherwise formally accused of a crime by the government.

The right to a speedy trial is derived from the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The federal government and Wisconsin have passed statutes requiring the government, state or federal prosecutors to prosecute a defendant within a specified period of time. In Wisconsin, misdemeanor cases are required to go to trial within 60 days from the initial court appearance. On the other hand, in felony cases, the defendant or prosecutor has to make a demand for trial after formal charges, and a trial must commence within 90 days from that demand. There are certain exceptions that can extend or delay the specified time periods.

However, depending on the length of delay, reasons for delay, and when you were arrested or charged, you may be able to get the charges against you dismissed if a violation of your speedy trial rights occurred. But remember, prior to formal accusations of a criminal offense, the government is not required to act within a specified period of time to prosecute the case.

Speedy Trial Rights and Fighting Drug Charges in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, depending on the type and amount of drugs you are charged with possessing or trafficking, you could be facing misdemeanor or felony charges. If it was a first-time offense, it might be considered a misdemeanor. But, if your criminal history includes prior drug convictions, you will most likely be facing felony charges. However, if the prosecution violated your rights to a speedy trial, you will most likely get these charges dismissed.

Proving a Speedy Trial Violation

Wisconsin courts, like their federal counterparts, apply the same four-part balancing test in order to determine if a violation of speedy trial rights occurred. The court will consider the:
  • Length of the delay;
  • Reason for the delay;
  • Defendant’s assertion of his or her right; and
  • Prejudice to the defendant.

As you can see, the court looks to the circumstances surrounding your case and attempts to balance the factors to ensure your rights have not been violated. If you were convicted of a drug offense and your speedy trial rights were violated, the court is required to set aside your conviction, vacate your sentence and dismiss the indictment against you. If a speedy trial violation is proved prior to trial, the court will generally be required to dismiss the charges against you.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you believe your speedy trial rights were violated, regardless of whether you were already convicted or are awaiting trial, you should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who can properly evaluate your case and aggressively assert your rights.
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