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What About My Right to a Speedy Trial?


It is important to understand that the court systems in every state, county, and municipality operate a little differently from one another. While you may be familiar with the general process in one court system, you may find that the courts just one county over have a strikingly different process. The court procedures which we are most familiar with, New York and Los Angeles thanks to film and television, should maybe be held as the standard to which you compare court districts, especially smaller court districts, in other states, however, in reality other states often do not measure up.

The differences between court systems can be as simple as the terminology used to name the prosecution (District Attorney, States Attorney, Solicitor, etc) or how often a defendant is required to be in the courtroom, or as complicated as deadlines for filing or what that system considers a “speedy trial.”

The right to a speedy (and public) trial is granted to us by the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and, here in South Carolina, Article I, Section 14 of the S.C. Constitution. Unfortunately, neither the U.S. nor the S.C. Constitutions provide a definition of “speedy” – which means it is left up to the individual states or jurisdictions to define the amount of time a person may be held without trial. In addition, there are a number of legal ways in which that statutory limit can be exceeded. This can lead to what many people consider exceptionally long wait times between being charged with a crime and being brought to trial.

In Horry County, it is not unusual to see defendants wait years for a jury trial. Some of the smaller, municipal court systems share judges amongst one another or with the magistrate system and some only hold jury court sessions in rotation once a year. Even in the court systems with regular sessions, there are often so many people on the docket that it can take months to get on a Roster, and even longer than that to actually get a jury trial scheduled. Add to that the frequency of weather-related cancellations (hurricanes get courts around here cancelled at least once a year) and it can feel like forever before you get to trial.

Hiring an attorney to assist on your case can benefit you because it may be possible to get your charges dismissed or reduced without having to go to trial, which means you may not need to wait as long to have your case taken care of. But, even with an attorney, if your case needs to go to trial, it can take time to get there.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in South Carolina, the attorneys at the Complete Legal Defense Team help. Call 843-626-5480 for a confidential consultation today.

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