The Constitution guarantees the people of Tennessee and the rest of the country the right to a speedy trial in criminal matters. This right is spelled out in the Sixth Amendment. What the term “speedy trial” specifically means depends on a combination of state and federal laws. Broadly, it means that a criminal defendant must be tried within a reasonable time following arrest. The Constitution does not set forth exactly what a reasonable time is, and the time period varies by state.
In most cases, the prosecutor must decide what charges will be filed against a person within 72 hours of arrest. Several states use 72 hours as a general limit. The U.S. Supreme Court has explained that defendants are entitled to protections to prevent them from being imprisoned for lengthy periods prior to a conviction. The right to a speedy trial limits the amount of time that a person must go through the publicity and anxiety of a pending trial. It is meant to minimize the damage that a delay might cause to the defendant’s ability to put on a defense.
When a person is charged with a crime in Tennessee, the prosecutor will review the facts of the case before deciding what charges to file. The prosecutor may amend the charges at a later time, but the initial charges must be filed within a reasonable time.
An attorney in Tennessee who has experience practicing criminal defense law might help in criminal cases by examining the specifics of the charges filed by prosecutors and looking for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. In some cases, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain or argue against the admission of certain evidence. In cases that cannot be resolved out of court, an attorney might help by bringing motions or arguing on behalf of the client during court hearings.