The coronavirus pandemic has brought about some unique circumstances that Americans are now forced to deal with. One of the most disruptive aspects of this pandemic has been the closure of businesses and many government functions. This includes the court system.
For the first time in over 100 years, the United States Supreme Court has postponed upcoming cases. All around the country, courts are being shut down and proceedings rescheduled.
If you are arrested during this time, or if you had an upcoming court date, it’s important your right to a speedy trial is upheld.
Coronavirus and the Court System
Courts around the country are being forced to cancel normal proceedings due to the coronavirus. This is a completely unexpected event and one that the legal system seems to be unprepared to take on.
From smaller locales like ours to major cities like New York, court cases are being rescheduled in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
The problem with this is that the longer these trials are delayed, the higher the odds that the defendants are being denied their right to a speedy trial.
Your Right to a Speedy Trial in North Carolina
Everyone arrested and charged with a crime has the right to a speedy trial in the United States of America. The 6th Amendment to the Constitution directly states:
“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…”
As this is a right set forth in the Bill of Rights, it means it is applicable at all times. Even unforeseeable events such as the current coronavirus situation do not provide a valid reason for denying your right to a speedy trial.
When Your Right to Speedy Trial Has Been Violated in North Carolina
The most important thing you can do if your case has been postponed is to consult with an experienced North Carolina trial attorney. An attorney who understands the nuances surrounding trial law will be able to make an argument for your rights having been violated.
The US Supreme Court laid forth four different guidelines to help clarify whether a defendant’s right to a speedy trial had been followed. These guidelines are:
- Length of the delay
- Reason for the delay
- Defendant’s assertion of their rights
- Prejudice to the defendant
Further laws have also come into place dealing with what constitutes a fair and speedy trial. The US Congress passed a law stating that proceedings must be held within 70 days of the filing date. This is what North Carolina uses as its standard when deciding if a trial has been speedy.
How Long Is Too Long to Wait for Your Day in a North Carolina Court?
We are in completely new territory with the current shut-downs, and wait time can be a subjective kind of concept. Of course, any time waiting when your life and name are on the line feels too long.
What we do know is the law outlines that a case shouldn’t be pushed over the 70-day mark. So the longer the coronavirus situation goes on, the more likely your right to a speedy trial is being violated.
This is why it is imperative that you hire an experienced North Carolina attorney who understands your rights. An experienced attorney will be able to formulate a strategy to defend you against your rights being violated and help move your case through the courts…or even have it dismissed.