The Sixth Amendment provides that a person who has been charged with a crime has the right to a speedy trial. Whether that right has been violated, however, is determined on a case-by-case basis. There are several factors that go into making that determination, and one factor is whether the defendant actually wants a speedy trial.
Recently, a jury in Sussex County found a man not guilty of sexual assault, but not before he spent 825 days in jail. The 42-year-old has a prior sex crime conviction, and in the recent four-day trial, he was accused of sexually assaulting a child under the age of 12. The man reportedly confessed to the assault; however, because the prosecution lacked physical evidence linking the man to the crime, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
After the trial, the man had to appear in court again to face separate charges of failing to inform police of a change of address. Megan’s Law requires such notification from people who have been convicted of a sex offense.
The man admitted that he moved twice without notifying authorities: once to a different apartment in the same building and then to an apartment in the same complex. A conviction for failing to notify can result in a jail sentence of up to 4.5 years, along with heavy fines.
In this case, the judge handed down a jail sentence of 364 days, but the defendant won’t have to serve the time. He was credited for time served during the years that led up to the sexual assault trial, and his probation was also dropped.
In criminal cases involving sex crime allegations, the prosecution typically asks the judge to set bail at a level that could keep the defendant incarcerated up until the trial. A criminal defense attorney may be able to combat the prosecution’s efforts and argue for a lower bail, thereby allowing the defendant to be free from jail during the period leading up to the trial and to take the time necessary to prepare an effective defense.
Source: New Jersey Herald, “Montague sex offender won’t have more jail time,” Jessica Masulli Reyes, April 22, 2014