Wednesday, June 6, 2012

YOUR RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL IN ILLINOIS

Under Illinois law, you are entitled to a speedy trial within a certain time period if you are accused of a crime. However, this rule is subject to certain exceptions.

If you are held in jail, the State must try your case within 120 days of when you were taken into custody. However, the ticking on this clock is suspended during the time that you cause a delay such as if you need a continuance to find an attorney or if your attorney needs more time to investigate the evidence in your case. The clock is also suspended when you need an evaluation to determine if you are fit to stand trial.

If you have been released from jail, the State has 160 days to bring you to trial from the time that you formally demand a trial. Again, any delays caused by you or the need for a fitness evaluation are added to the 160 days. The State can request up to 60 more days as long as they are diligently trying to obtain important evidence, and they can have up to 120 more days if that evidence involves DNA. Be warned that if you fail to show up for a court date, you give up your right to a speedy trial, so it is critical that you appear at every date.

While it does not happen often, there are times when a case is dismissed because the State took too long to bring the matter to trial. An experienced criminal law attorney will keep their eye on the speedy trial clock.

Sometimes, however, a delay works to your advantage. Witnesses get tired of coming to court, and testimony starts to change. An experienced attorney may decide not to exercise your right to a speedy trial as part of your defense strategy. If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See: Illinois Speedy Trial Act. 725 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/103-5. (Rights of the Accused.)

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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