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The Sixth Amendment Essay

2656 words - 11 pages

The Sixth Amendment was ratified on December 15, 1791. It guarantees rights related to criminal prosecutions in federal courts and it was ruled that these rights are fundamental and important. The Sixth Amendment gives the accused the right to speedy and public trial by the impartial jury. The accused has the right to be informed of the nature and reason of accusation and also be confronted with the witness against him as well as obtaining witness in his favor. In this research paper I will provide a thorough analysis of these above rights and give some history of the 6th Amendment.

The Sixth Amendment was written by George Mason, who was a mentor of George Washington. It was written just a month before the Declaration of Independence. With few changes it was included into the Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted in 1776. The Six Amendment was number 8 in Mason's writings and it followed:

"That in all capital or criminal Prosecutions, a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for Evidence and be admitted counsel in his Favor, and to a fair and speedy Trial by an impartial Jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, (except in the Government of the land and naval Forces in Time of actual war, Invasion or Rebellion) nor can he be compelled to give Evidence against himself. "

As the above quote shows almost every element of the writing was copied into the Six Amendment. It constitutes the line between the liberty of the individual and power of judges acting in the name of the state.

The first right I will talk about, is the right for speedy trial. There are two factors to consider: the length of delay and the reason of delay, both being very important. In the case Barker v. Wingo the Supreme Court ruled that the violation of this right must be judges only on the case-by-case basis. However, Supreme Court has never set any particular time limit which must be applied. In addition, the prosecution cannot delay too much the trial for its own advantage, but the trial can be delayed to secure the presence of the witness.

If it is found that a defendant's right to a speedy trial is violated, then the indictment is cancelled and conviction is subverted. The reversal of criminal case on the issue of speedy trial results in no further prosecution for the alleged offense. The reason for this right was the fact that with the passage of time the witnesses can be lost because of death, blurring of memory and other factors. However, there are also some other reasons: person in jail must be supported at considerable expense and, sometimes, even family members must be assisted as well.

The guarantee of the speedy trial is one of the fundamental liberties embodied in the Bill of Rights. The right has some limitations: it is activated only when the criminal prosecution has begun and applies only to...

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