So you are a criminal defendant in Texas, and it’s been a few years since you were arrested, you remember hearing about a “right to speedy trial” and want to know if your case can be dismissed. Maybe, that depends on the trial judge. In Texas, we allow the State to appeal dismissed cases, which is weird, but whatever. Defendants can also appeal a denial of a speedy trial motion to dismiss. So you need to know how an appellate court will review a speedy trial claim.
What’s the law on Speedy Trials in Texas?
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the accused in a criminal prosecution the right to a speedy trial. See U.S. CONST. amend. VI. The right to a speedy trial attaches once a person is either arrested or charged. Cantu v. State, 253 S.W.3d 273, 281 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008). A speedy trial claim is analyzed on a case-by-case basis by weighing and balancing the following factors: (1) length of delay, (2) the reason for the delay, (3) the defendant’s assertion of his right, and (4) the prejudice inflicted on the defendant by the delay. Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530 (1972). These “are related factors, which must be considered together along with any other relevant circumstances.” Zamorano v. State, 84 S.W.3d 643, 648 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002) (citing Barker, 407 U.S. at 533). “No one factor possesses ‘talismanic qualities,’ thus courts must ‘engage in a difficult and sensitive balancing process’ in each individual case.” Id. (quoting Barker, 407 U.S. at 533).