The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the defendant the right to a speedy trial. In comments related to Donald Trump's latest arraignment, his lawyer suggested that Donald Trump doesn't want a speedy trial.

Has a ruling ever held that the right to a speedy trial extends to the prosecution, or that the defendant cannot waive this right? The unlimited ability to delay the trial by the defendant would open the door to all sorts of abuses.

  • 1
    Just today heard about Marsy's Law which seems to have some bearing... suggests that crime victims (in places with such a law) also have a right to a speedy trial Aug 5, 2023 at 22:07
  • "Ability to delay the trial by the defendant would open the door to all sorts of abuses" the historical abuse such a law is there to prevent is the state throwing a defendant in jail to await trial...and then never holding it. Aug 6, 2023 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


The Sixth Amendment is very specific: "[T]he accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy[...] trial." There is no such constitutional right given to the prosecution, and such a right would not serve the public interest. Defendants very often waive their right to a speedy trial in order to have more time to prepare a defense.

Conversely, however, the defendant does not have the right to draw out the proceedings indefinitely. When the right to a speedy trial is waived, it falls to the court (that is, the judge) to schedule the proceedings at its discretion. It may choose to take into account the wishes of the prosecution or the defense or both, but is not required to do so.

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    I'd disagree. If a burglar is released on bail, the public interest is very much for a trial in 2 months rather than 12 months, as the public will suffer 10 more months of burglaries! This is particularly important if conditions are ripe for the suspect to commit the same crimes again. Aug 6, 2023 at 7:45
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica — You comment reads more as a criticism of the 6th amendment than it does disagreement with AR over what it says.
    – Quentin
    Aug 6, 2023 at 9:26
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    @Quentin Harper is commenting on the "such a right would not serve the public interest" part of AR's answer, which does not seem to come from the 6th amendment.
    – JiK
    Aug 6, 2023 at 18:30
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    @JiK correct. I am happy for the defendant's right to a speedy trial; I am am disagreeing that they have a right to a slow one since the public also has a right to swift justice. Aug 6, 2023 at 19:50
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica As I mention in the second paragraph, there is no right to a slow trial, but if the speedy trial right is waived by the defense, then it is up to the court to determine what the appropriate time frame is. For example, in the current case against the former president, Chutkin J. has indicated a preference for a speedy trial notwithstanding the defense's waiver due to concerns that the defendant might threaten potential jurors. Aug 14, 2023 at 13:34

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