I want a speedy trial, but my lawyer wants me to “waive time.” What should I do?

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The Sixth Amendment and various state laws guarantee a defendant’s right to a speedy trial. Many defendants, particularly those who are waiting in jail, want to enforce this right. But lawyers frequently advise their clients to “waive time”—that is, to agree to the proceedings moving slower than state law provides. (For more information, see I’ve been arrested and charged. How quickly can I get to trial?)

Whether it’s a good idea to waive time depends entirely on the circumstances of the case. It might be possible that the defense can force the prosecution to trial before the latter is ready—but that’s typically a risky strategy. Usually, it makes sense to take whatever time is necessary to fully prepare a defense. But you should generally rely on your lawyer when making the decision of whether to waive time. Your lawyer will have weighed the pros and cons, and can explain them to you. The worst mistake you can make is rushing to trial out of impatience at being behind bars, only to ensure that you remain there even longer.

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