Although a criminal defendant in Indiana or elsewhere in the United States is deprived of many rights and liberties, those restrictions are balanced under our criminal justice system by countervailing protections based upon fundamental fairness and so-called due process.
And one of the most important of all those safeguards is this: the right to a speedy trial, as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
The need for that assurance is obvious, both to a criminal suspect and to an alleged victim of crime. As noted in one recent media report on a singular crime case, an undue trial delay takes “an exhaustive toll on suspects stuck behind bars and on victims’ families, who are robbed of closure.”
The described criminal matter serves as an uppercase example of the outer limits that can be experienced regarding a delayed case and the stark undermining of a constitutional guarantee.
To wit: A criminal suspect who was charged with a murder that occurred during an alleged altercation involving drugs back in 2007 is still awaiting trial on that count a decade later.
The reasons cited for what some critics contend is a flatly unprecedented delay are many, as well as complex.
The bottom line, though, flatly centers on justice denied for all parties involved. As for the defendant, he has been behind bars since his arrest, being held without bond.
An advocate for a human rights organization states that a capital murder case usually takes one or two years to work its way through trial. He says he has never seen another case comparable to the suspect’s decade-long wait without seeing a court room.
An experienced criminal defense attorney always seeks to ensure the safeguarding of the full panoply of legal rights accorded a defendant. Those include, as noted above, reasonable dispatch in the hearing and due resolution of a criminal case.