Right to Speedy Trial by Jury
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL AND THE RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY. It doesn’t matter what crime you are accused of committing, you have the right to a jury trial in Indiana. However, in some cases, particularly misdemeanor cases, you are required to specifically ASK for a jury trial and you must do this pretty early in your case. If the Judge sets your case for a “bench trial” and you want a “jury trial”, you should tell your lawyer right away so that they can preserve this right. It can be lost if you don’t follow the rules and request it in time. For other cases, like felonies, the Judge will automatically assume you want a jury trial and they will set your case for a trial by jury. In those cases, if you DON’T want a jury, you should talk that over with your lawyer and you can formally waive this right.
The right to a speedy trial is important whether you are in jail or not, but it is certainly more critical if you are in jail awaiting trial. Your life has to be put on hold and this can impact your family, your job, your health, and many other parts of your life. There are other reasons also why the right to a speedy trial may be important. The more time that passes after you are charged, the more evidence the State may be able to obtain against you. In addition, the passage of time can affect the memory of a witness, particularly if they hear about the case and the facts from third parties while you are awaiting trial. In addition, some evidence can be lost completely over time. If you want a SPEEDY TRIAL, you should talk to your lawyer about that desire so that he or she can ensure that it is protected. You can also tell the Judge directly that you are asserting your right to a speedy trial, and the Judge can take steps to set the trial within the time that the law allows.
While the right to a speedy trial is important, you should also keep in mind that you will want to go into the trial process fully prepared. There are times when your lawyer may need to continue a hearing or delay your trial so that they can obtain new evidence, or work with an expert witness. You should keep an open mind in talking with your lawyer and consider carefully their advice about any delays in your trial.