The constitution guarantees an individual charged with any crime such as drug distribution, robbery or murder the right to a speedy trial. One of the reasons behind this constitutional guarantee is recognizing that individuals are innocent until proven guilty and this right helps ensure that people charged with a crime aren’t subjected to “oppressive pretrial incarceration,” as well as minimizing the anxiety of the accused and limiting the possibility that the defense will be negatively affected.
An experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer can fight to protect your rights if you are charged with any crime and help ensure law enforcement does not violate your constitutional rights at any point in the criminal law process, including investigation, arrest and trial.
In a recent 6th Circuit case, United States v. Ferreira, the 6th Circuit dismissed the indictment against a defendant after the government unnecessarily delayed his trial. In Ferreira, the defendant Ferreira was accused of conspiracy to distribute drugs – 500 grams or more of methamphetamines in 2005. At that time he was in custody in Georgia on unrelated criminal charges. As the result of government delays, misplaced paperwork and other errors, Ferreira did not appear in court related to the drug charges until August 2008.
Although the district court dismissed Ferreira’s claims that the government violated his right to a speedy trial, on appeal the 6th Circuit – which includes Michigan – determined that the man’s rights were denied. In determining whether someone’s right to a speedy trial are violated, a court will evaluate four factors including the length of the delay and the reason for the delay. A length of more than one year satisfies the test. Here the wait was nearly three years long.
Additionally – a court will review the reasons for a delay. If the delay is motivated by bad faith rather than by simple negligence, it is more likely a court will find that the government violated an individual’s rights.
Here the government didn’t provide any excuse for the delay but admitted it was solely responsible. The 6th circuit determined that the government’s actions went “beyond simple negligence.” Weighing these factors along with other considerations, the court determined that the defendant’s right to a speedy trial had been violated.
Where an individual’s right to a speedy trial is violated, the only available option is dismissal of the indictment. As a result, the drug charge indictment against Ferreira was dismissed.
If you have been charged with a crime, the criminal defense lawyer you choose can and will make a difference. In many cases it may be possible to challenge evidence and identify issues that can be appealed and lead to individuals achieving justice and securing their freedom.