Speedy Trial Definition

In criminal prosecutions, the right of a defendant to have a trial within a short time, premised on the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process. Each state has a statute or constitutional provision limiting the time an accused person may be held before trial (for example, 45 days). Charges must be dismissed and the defendant released if the period expires without trial. However, defendants often waive the right to a speedy trial in order to prepare a stronger defense or negotiate a plea to a lesser offense.