Article I Section 9 of the Tennessee Constitution guarantees a person accused of a criminal charge the right to a speedy trial.I recently filed a motion to dismiss in a cold case first degree murder case based upon a denial of his right to a speedy trial.There are four  factors that the criminal courts in Tennessee review in evaluating a speedy trial claim.

  1. the length of the delay;
  2. the reason for the delay;
  3. whether the defendant asserted a claim to the right of a trial;
  4. whether the defendant was prejudiced by the delay.

There is no magic amount of time in the length of delay analysis. A delay of one year triggers a more through review by the trial court.

Reason for the delay usually falls into one of these categories;

  • delay to obtain a tactical advantage ;
  • bureaucratic indifference or neglect ;
  • delay necessary to the fair and effective prosecution of the case ;
  • delay caused or acquiesced by the defense .

The most critical factor of the four is what prejudice did the defendant suffer.Loss of memory and witnesses are just two elements to present to the court.  Impairment to the defense is sometimes hard to prove.

The denial of a right to a speedy trial is just one right that the U.S. or Tennessee Constitution still affords the citizen accused.