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speedy trial n:
a trial conducted according to prevailing rules and procedures that takes place without unreasonable or undue delay or within a statutory period NOTE: The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed to criminal defendants by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The purposes of the right as explained by the U.S. Supreme Court are to keep a person who has not yet been convicted from serving lengthy jail time, to lessen the time that the accused must endure the anxiety and publicity of the impending trial, and to minimize the damage that delay might cause to the person's ability to present a defense. Although the Constitution does not set out any specific time within which a trial must commence in order to be deemed speedy, some states have enacted laws establishing a limit whose expiration results in a dismissal of the charges.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.