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Illinois Courts Reinstitutes Right to a Speedy Trial Rule

Posted on in Criminal Defense

will county defense lawyerOne of the rights that an accused has under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution is the “right to a speedy and public trial.” Although the amendment does not define exactly how long “speedy” is, both the federal government and Illinois have passed laws that define how long a prosecutor has to bring a defendant to trial.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed all that, with shutdowns of the Illinois court system, forcing those time limits to be tolled (paused). Although some proceedings were held via Zoom, the majority of trials have been on hold. However, as of October 1, that pause has been lifted and defendants now have that right to a speedy trial again.

Illinois Law

Under the Illinois speedy trial law, there must be a trial within 120 days for defendants who are in custody. If the individual is out on bond, then there must be a trial within 160 days. If those deadlines cannot be met, the charges against them will be dismissed. The state also has a compulsory joinder law that also protects a person’s right to a speedy trial. This law means that if a defendant is facing multiple charges from the same arrest, prosecutors must bring those charges in one single prosecution act. In other words, there cannot be an individual trial for each individual charge.

The COVID-19 pandemic pause has created a massive backlog of criminal cases, as well as a high number of individuals sitting in jail and placed on pretrial electronic monitoring while they waited for their day in court. Although United States law says a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, thousands of Illinois defendants have been in limbo for more than a year, waiting to be able to defend against the charges they are accused of.

Tolling Lifted

Now that the pause has been lifted in Illinois, any defendants who have been waiting for a resolution to their criminal case can file their demand for a speedy trial with the court that has jurisdiction over their case. It is anticipated that the number of demands filed will have a significant impact on the court system.

While many defendants may take advantage of the pause lifting, the pause may have affected other defendants in a different way, allowing them to put the situation on the back burner and not have to deal with it. Now they may be facing a quickly scheduled trial that they may be unprepared for.

Contact a Will County Criminal Lawyer for Help

Regardless of which situation you find yourself in, if you are a defendant who is facing a criminal trial, you need an aggressive Joliet defense attorney advocating for you and protecting your rights. Call McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC at 815-727-0100 to schedule a free consultation and find out what legal options you may have. Do not delay.

 

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/sixth_amendment

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=1966&ChapterID=54&SeqStart=3100000&SeqEnd=4200000

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