We often have clients that ask us whether they have the right to a speedy trial, and they most certainly do. Both the United States & Michigan Constitutions guarantee a criminal defendant the right to a speedy trial. The United States Supreme Court laid out factors to be considered when considering speedy trial claims: (1) the length of the delay, (2) reason for the delay, (3), the defendant’s assertion of the right, and (4) the prejudice to the defendant.

The clock for a speedy trial begins on the date someone is arrested. There is no set number of days to determine whether the speedy trial right has been violated; however, if the delay is over 18 months, the claim is seriously considered by the court. If the delay is over 18 months, the fourth factor, prejudice, is presumed and the burden is on the prosecutor to rebut that presumption.

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently considered this issue in People v. Jennings. In that case, the defendant was taken into custody on May 22, 2016 and his trial did not begin until two years later on June 5, 2018. In that case, Mr. Jennings asserted his desire to exercise his right to a speedy trial. He objected to delays and adjournments. The most recent objection to a delay that Mr. Jennings made was in March of 2018 prior to commencement of his trial. At that point, the Court should have done an inquiry into the four factors discussed above. Because the Court did not inquire appropriately, Jennings’ case will go back to the trial court to examine those issues.

The right to a speedy trial is an important one that may become an issue as the Michigan courts close in response to the COVID-19 situation in our state and country. Contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Hills at Law, P.C. to discuss this issue if it impacts you or a loved one.

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