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The “right to a speedy trial” is guaranteed by the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as Article 11 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

According to Rule 36 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant must be brought to trial within one year of his arraignment.

While all cases must be tried within one year, priority will be given to defendants who are being detained and/or pose a threat to community safety.

The trial of defendants in custody awaiting trial and defendants whose pretrial liberty is reasonably believed to present unusual risks to society shall be given preference over other criminal cases.

Mass.R.Crim.P. Rule 36(a)(1)

There are, however, numerous exceptions listed in Rule 36(b)(2).

Most notably, defendants cannot claim that their right to a speedy trial has been violated if the delay is due to continuances that the defendant agreed to or failed to object to.

If a genuine violation of the speedy-trial right occurs,

a defendant shall upon motion be entitled to a dismissal where the judge after an examination and consideration of all attendant circumstances determines that:

(1) the conduct of the prosecuting attorney in bringing the defendant to trial has been unreasonably lacking in diligence and

(2) this conduct on the part of the prosecuting attorney has resulted in prejudice to the defendant.

Rule 36(c)