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A defendant's rights after being charged with a crime

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives everyone the right to a speedy trial. If a Massachusetts judge deems that a trial took too long to commence, the case may be dismissed. Typically, the word speedy is defined as a reasonable amount of time depending on the circumstances of a given case. In addition to having a case heard in a reasonable amount of time, a defendant's fate must be determined by an impartial jury.

Typically, the jury is made up of 12 people who must all agree as to whether a defendant is innocent or guilty after hearing the evidence. If the jury cannot come up with a unanimous decision, they are considered to be hung or split. When this occurs, a mistrial is declared, and the case may either be dismissed or retried in front of another jury.

An individual may face a variety of penalties if convicted of criminal charges. They may range from probation or community service to time spent in jail or prison. It may also be possible for an individual to pay a fine or restitution depending on the circumstances of the case.

An attorney may be able to create defenses to the charges in an effort to have the case dismissed or to obtain a plea deal. If a case does not proceed in a timely manner, it may be possible to ask for it to be dismissed or for a trial date to be set. This may happen even if a prosecutor is not ready to proceed, and it may be used as leverage to obtain a favorable outcome for a defendant.

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