Brief Fact Summary. Respondent, Lovasco, brought this action when he was indicted eighteen (18) months after the offenses of his indictment occurred.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A court must apply a balancing test and consider not only the prejudice to the defendant but also the governmental interests that are being served when there is a delay in indictment.
Issue. Whether prejudice to the defendant, alone, is enough to dismiss a case for lack of a speedy trial.
Held. Reversed. By looking at several factors, the Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Marshall, found there to be a balancing test to determine what is “speedy” in the context of the constitutional mandate for a speedy trial-in addition to the prejudice the defendant faces, the following interests of justice must also be considered:
First, the court says that not every delay-caused detriment should abort a criminal prosecution;
Second, compelling a prosecutor to file public charges when he has not fully developed his case would result in more erroneous indictments;
Third, insisting on immediate prosecution once sufficient evidence is developed could cause pressure upon prosecutors to resolve any conflicts in investigation with possibly unwarranted prosecutions; and
Fourth, insisting that charging decisions be quickly made may not give a prosecutor sufficient time to determine who a guilty party is and more individuals may be indicted than less.
Prosecutors are under no duty to file charges as soon as probable cause exists but before they are satisfied that they will be able to establish a suspect's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.View Full Point of Law