In most circumstances, not much. Anyone formally charged with a crime in Wisconsin has both a statutory and Constitutional right to a speedy trial. Wisconsin Statute section 971.10 mandates that any misdemeanor must be tried within 60 days of the initial appearance, and that a felony be tried within 90 days of an official demand for trial. While this appears to establish bright-line deadlines in which an accused must be tried, large periods of time are often not credited towards these periods, such as when a court finds that a continuance serves the interests of justice. More importantly, even if a court finds that a defendant’s statutory speedy-trial rights have been violated, the remedy is that the defendant be released from custody–it does not result in a dismissal of the charges.
The Wisconsin and United States constitutions also establish speedy-trial rights for those charged with crimes. However, the extent of one’s constitutional right to a speedy-trial is less clear-cut and does not depend only on the amount of time a criminal charge has been pending. Instead, courts will determine whether a constitutional speedy-trial violation has occurred by balancing the following:
- The length of delay
- The reasons for delay
- The defendant’s assertion of his right to a speedy trial
- The prejudice to the defendant
Although courts seldom find a delay sufficient to trigger a violation of a defendant’s constitutional speedy-trial rights, in those rare cases the result is that the charges are dismissed with prejudice, meaning the State is prohibited from re-charging the individual.
Criminal Prosecution & Defense
Should you or a loved one find yourself charged with a crime, makes sure to seek the assistance of a qualified attorney so you can discuss the likely timeline involved in a criminal prosecution and help determine whether your priority will be to proceed as quickly as possible, or instead to prepare the best available defense.