Justice GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury...." Does the Sixth Amendment's speedy trial guarantee apply to the sentencing phase of a criminal prosecution? That is the sole question this case presents. We hold that the guarantee protects the accused from arrest or indictment through trial, but does not apply once a defendant has been found guilty at trial or has pleaded guilty to criminal charges. For inordinate delay in sentencing, although the Speedy Trial Clause does not govern, a defendant may have other recourse, including, in appropriate circumstances, tailored relief under the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Petitioner Brandon Betterman, however, advanced in this Court only a Sixth Amendment speedy trial claim. He did not preserve a due process challenge. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 19. We, therefore, confine this opinion to his Sixth Amendment challenge.
Ordered to appear in court on domestic assault charges, Brandon Betterman failed to show up and was therefore charged with bail jumping. 378 Mont. 182, 184, 342 P.3d 971, 973 (2015). After pleading guilty to the bail-jumping charge, he was jailed for over 14 months awaiting sentence on that conviction. Id., at 184-185, 342 P.3d, at 973-974. The holdup, in large part, was due to institutional delay: the presentence report took nearly five months to complete; the trial court took several months to deny two presentence motions (one seeking dismissal of the charge on the ground of delay); and the court was slow
Arguing that the 14-month gap between conviction and sentencing violated his speedy trial right, Betterman appealed. The Montana Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence, ruling that the Sixth Amendment's Speedy Trial Clause does not apply to postconviction, presentencing delay. Id., at 188-192, 342 P.3d, at 975-978.
We granted certiorari, 577 U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 582, 193 L.Ed.2d 464 (2015), to resolve a split among courts over whether the Speedy Trial Clause applies to such delay.
Criminal proceedings generally unfold in three discrete phases. First, the State investigates to determine whether to arrest and charge a suspect. Once charged, the suspect stands accused but is presumed innocent until conviction upon trial or guilty plea. After conviction, the court imposes sentence. There are checks against delay throughout this progression, each geared to its particular phase.
In the first stage — before arrest or indictment, when the suspect remains at liberty — statutes of limitations provide the primary protection against delay, with the Due Process Clause as a safeguard against fundamentally unfair prosecutorial conduct. United States v. Lovasco, 431 U.S. 783, 789, 97 S.Ct. 2044, 52 L.Ed.2d 752 (1977); see id., at 795, n. 17, 97 S.Ct. 2044 (Due Process Clause may be violated, for instance, by prosecutorial delay that is "tactical" or "reckless" (internal quotation marks omitted)).
The Sixth Amendment's Speedy Trial Clause homes in on the second period: from arrest or indictment through conviction. The constitutional right, our precedent holds, does not attach until this phase begins, that is, when a defendant is arrested or formally accused. United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307, 320-321, 92 S.Ct. 455, 30 L.Ed.2d 468 (1971). Today we hold that the right detaches upon conviction, when this second stage ends.
Our reading comports with the historical understanding. The speedy trial right, we have observed, "has its roots at the very foundation of our English law heritage. Its first articulation in modern jurisprudence appears to have been made in Magna Carta (1215)...." Klopfer v. North Carolina, 386 U.S. 213, 223, 87 S.Ct. 988, 18 L.Ed.2d 1 (1967). Regarding the Framers' comprehension of the right as it existed at the founding, we have cited Sir Edward Coke's Institutes of the Laws of England. See id., at 223-225, and nn. 8, 12-14, 18, 87 S.Ct. 988. Coke wrote that "the innocent shall not be worn and wasted by long imprisonment, but ... speedily come to his tria[l]." 1 E. Coke, Second Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England 315 (1797) (emphasis added).
Reflecting the concern that a presumptively innocent person should not languish under an unresolved charge, the Speedy Trial Clause guarantees "the accused" "the right to a speedy ... trial." U.S. Const., Amdt. 6 (emphasis added). At the founding, "accused" described a status preceding "convicted." See, e.g., 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 322 (1769) (commenting on process in which "persons accused of felony ... were tried ... and convicted" (emphasis added)). And "trial" meant a discrete episode after which judgment (i.e., sentencing) would follow. See, e.g., id., at 368 ("We are now to consider the next stage of criminal prosecution, after trial and conviction are past ...: which is that of judgment.").
This understanding of the Sixth Amendment language — "accused" as distinct from "convicted," and "trial" as separate from "sentencing" — endures today. See, e.g., Black's Law Dictionary 26 (10th ed. 2014) (defining "accused" as "a person who has
This Court's precedent aligns with the text and history of the Speedy Trial Clause. Detaining the accused pretrial, we have said, disadvantages him, and the imposition is "especially unfortunate" as to those "ultimately found to be innocent." Barker, 407 U.S., at 532-533, 92 S.Ct. 2182. And in Marion, 404 U.S., at 320, 92 S.Ct. 455 addressing "the major evils protected against by the speedy trial guarantee," we observed: "Arrest is a public act that may seriously interfere with the defendant's liberty, whether he is free on bail or not, and that may disrupt his employment, drain his financial resources, curtail his associations, subject him to public obloquy, and create anxiety in him, his family and his friends." We acknowledged in Marion that even pre-arrest — a stage at which the right to a speedy trial does not arise — the passage of time "may impair memories, cause evidence to be lost, deprive the defendant of witnesses, and otherwise interfere with his ability to defend himself." Id., at 321, 92 S.Ct. 455. Nevertheless, we determined, "this possibility of prejudice at trial is not itself sufficient reason to wrench the Sixth Amendment from its proper [arrest or charge triggered] context." Id., at 321-322, 92 S.Ct. 455. Adverse consequences of postconviction delay, though subject to other checks, see infra, at 1617-1618, are similarly outside the purview of the Speedy Trial Clause.
The sole remedy for a violation of the speedy trial right — dismissal of the charges, see Strunk v. United States, 412 U.S. 434, 440, 93 S.Ct. 2260, 37 L.Ed.2d 56 (1973); Barker, 407 U.S., at 522, 92 S.Ct. 2182 — fits the preconviction focus of the Clause. It would be an unjustified windfall, in most cases, to remedy sentencing delay by vacating validly obtained convictions. Betterman concedes that a dismissal remedy ordinarily would not be in order once a defendant has been convicted. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 5-6; cf. Bozza v. United States, 330 U.S. 160, 166, 67 S.Ct. 645, 91 S.Ct. 818 (1947) ("[A]n error in passing the sentence" does not permit a convicted defendant "to escape punishment altogether.").
Betterman asks us to take account of the prevalence of guilty pleas and the resulting scarcity of trials in today's justice system. See Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. ___, ___, 132 S.Ct. 1376, 1381, 182 L.Ed.2d 398 (2012) ("[C]riminal justice today is for the most part a system of pleas, not a system of trials."). The sentencing hearing has largely replaced the trial as the forum for dispute resolution, Betterman urges. Therefore, he maintains, the concerns supporting the right to a speedy trial now recommend a speedy sentencing hearing. The modern reality, however, does not bear on the presumption-of-innocence protection at the heart of the Speedy Trial Clause. And factual disputes, if any there be, at sentencing, do not go to the question of guilt; they are geared, instead, to ascertaining the proper sentence within boundaries set by statutory minimums and maximums.
Moreover, a central feature of contemporary sentencing in both federal and state courts is preparation by the probation office, and review by the parties and the court, of a presentence investigation report. See 18 U.S.C. § 3552; Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 32(c)-(g); 6 W. LaFave, J. Israel, N. King, & O. Kerr, Criminal Procedure § 26.5(b), pp. 1048-1049 (4th ed. 2015) (noting reliance on presentence reports in federal and state courts). This aspect of the system requires some amount of wholly reasonable presentencing delay.
As we have explained, at the third phase of the criminal-justice process, i.e., between conviction and sentencing, the Constitution's presumption-of-innocenceprotective speedy trial right is not engaged.
* * *
The course of a criminal prosecution is composed of discrete segments. During the segment between accusation and conviction, the Sixth Amendment's Speedy Trial Clause protects the presumptively innocent from long enduring unresolved criminal charges. The Sixth Amendment speedy trial right, however, does not extend beyond conviction, which terminates the presumption of innocence. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Montana is therefore
Justice THOMAS, with whom Justice ALITO joins, concurring.
I agree with the Court that the Sixth Amendment's Speedy Trial Clause does not apply to sentencing proceedings, except perhaps to bifurcated sentencing proceedings where sentencing enhancements operate as functional elements of a greater offense. See ante, at 1612-1613, and n. 2. I also agree with the Court's decision to reserve judgment on whether sentencing delays might violate the Due Process Clause. Ante, at 1617-1618. Brandon Betterman's counsel repeatedly disclaimed that he was raising in this Court a challenge under the Due Process Clause. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 7-8 ("We haven't included that. We didn't include that in the question presented, Your Honor"); id., at 8 ("[W]e are not advancing that claim here"); id., at 19 ("[W]e didn't preserve a — a due process challenge. Our challenge is solely under the Sixth Amendment").
We have never decided whether the Due Process Clause creates an entitlement to a reasonably prompt sentencing hearing. Today's opinion leaves us free to decide the proper analytical framework to analyze such claims if and when the issue is properly before us.
Justice SOTOMAYOR suggests that, for such claims, we should adopt the factors announced in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530-533, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 33 L.Ed.2d 101 (1972). Post, at 1619 (concurring opinion). I would not prejudge that matter. The factors listed in Barker may not necessarily translate to the delayed sentencing context. The Due Process Clause can be satisfied where a State has adequate procedures to redress an improper deprivation of liberty or property. See Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 537, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981). In unusual cases where trial courts fail to sentence a defendant within a reasonable time, a State might fully satisfy due process by making traditional extraordinary legal remedies, such as mandamus, available. Or, much like the federal Speedy Trial Act regulates trials, see 18 U.S.C. § 3161, a State might remedy improper sentencing delay by statute.
The Court thus correctly "express[es] no opinion on how [Betterman] might fare" under the Due Process Clause. Ante, at 1618.
Justice SOTOMAYOR, concurring.
I agree with the Court that petitioner cannot bring a claim under the Speedy Trial Clause for a delay between his guilty plea and his sentencing. As the majority notes, however, a defendant may have "other recourse" for such a delay, "including, in appropriate circumstances, tailored relief under the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments." Ante, at 1612. The Court has no reason to consider today the appropriate test for such a Due Process Clause challenge because petitioner has forfeited any such claim. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 19. I write separately to emphasize that the question is an open one.
The Due Process Clause is "flexible and calls for such procedural protections as the particular situation demands." Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 481, 92 S.Ct. 2593, 33 L.Ed.2d 484 (1972). This Court thus uses different tests to consider whether different kinds of delay run afoul of the Due Process Clause. In evaluating whether a delay in instituting judicial proceedings following a civil forfeiture violated the Due Process Clause, the Court applied the test from Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 33 L.Ed.2d 101 (1972) — the same test that the Court applies to violations of the Speedy Trial Clause. See United States v. $8,850, 461 U.S. 555, 564, 103 S.Ct. 2005, 76 L.Ed.2d 143 (1983). Under the Barker test, courts consider four factors — the length of the delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant's assertion of his right, and prejudice to the defendant. Ibid. None of the four factors is "either necessary or sufficient," and no one factor has a "talismanic qualit[y]." Barker, 407 U.S., at 533, 92 S.Ct. 2182.
The Montana Supreme Court did not use the Barker test in evaluating petitioner's Due Process Clause claim. 378 Mont. 182, 193-194, 342 P.3d 971, 979 (2015). But it seems to me that the Barker factors capture many of the concerns posed in the sentencing delay context and that because the Barker test is flexible, it will allow courts to take account of any differences between trial and sentencing delays. See 407 U.S., at 531, 92 S.Ct. 2182. The majority of the Circuits in fact use the Barker test for that purpose. See United States v. Sanders, 452 F.3d 572, 577 (C.A.6 2006) (collecting cases).
In the appropriate case, I would thus consider the correct test for a Due Process Clause delayed sentencing challenge.