Speedy trial is a human right which asserts that a government prosecutor may not delay a trial arbitrarily and indefinitely. This would allow prosecutors to effectively send anyone to jail for an arbitrary length of time. In jurisdictions with strong rule of law, this power is usually restricted to situations where a judge or jury determines someone has committed a crime specifically enumerated in a statute.
This right is codified in fundamental legal documents in several jurisdictions, including:
- Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights
- Speedy Trial Clause of the United States Constitution
- Section Eleven of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
In English law, this right was developed by the Assize of Clarendon in 1166 (a judge would be summoned if one was not immediately available) and the Magna Carta in 1215 ("To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.").
In June 1776, a "speedy trial" provision was explicitly included in the Virginia Declaration of Rights.
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