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Suppose that a woman named Harriet Miller comes before the judge in a pretrial hearing. She's charged with stealing thousands of dollars from her employer. She pleads guilty. What are Harriet's
rights under the Sixth Amendment? A. Harriet doesn't have to be informed of the charge brought against her. B. Harriet is guaranteed to a speedy trial. C. Harriet's case must go before a grand jury. D. Harriet won't stand trial but will be sentenced by the judge
B. Harriet is guaranteed to a speedy trial. Defendants in criminal cases have the right to a speedy trial. In Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. [ 514 (1972), the Supreme Court laid down a four-part case-by-case balancing test for determining whether the defendant's speedy trial right has been violated in the case. The four factors are: Length of delay: A delay of a year or more from the date on which
the speedy trial right "attaches" (the date of arrest or indictment, whichever first occurs) was termed "presumptively prejudicial," but the Court has never explicitly ruled that any absolute time limit applies. Reason for the delay: The prosecution may not excessively delay the trial for its own advantage, but a trial may be delayed to secure the presence of an absent witness or other practical considerations. Time and manner in which the defendant has asserted his right: If a defendant agrees to the delay when it works to his own benefit, he cannot later claim that he has been unduly delayed. Degree of prejudice to the defendant which the delay has caused. ]
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