In the United States, criminal defendants have important rights that are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately, many individuals accused of crimes fail to take advantage of their constitutional rights. They speak freely to police and give up their right to remain silent or allow unjustified searches and seizures of their personal property. Many fail to retain a skilled lawyer and instead rely on their own limited understanding of the criminal justice system.
If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, understand that all defendants have rights. Asserting these rights is often the difference between a guilty verdict and an acquittal.
Rights of the Accused
Some of the most important rights afforded to criminal defendants include:
- The right to a speedy and public trial – This right is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It means that once an individual is charged with a crime, they have the right to have their case tried before a judge or jury within a reasonable amount of time.
- The right to an attorney – This right is also guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. If a defendant cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender to represent him or her. It is very important for defendants to have an experienced attorney by their side. An attorney will be familiar with the criminal justice system and know how to navigate the case from beginning to end. An experienced attorney can gather evidence and use it to build a strong defense against criminal charges.
- The right not to be subjected to double jeopardy – This right is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment and means that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Once a person is acquitted or convicted of a crime, they cannot be tried again for that same crime.
- The right against self-incrimination: The Fifth Amendment also states that defendants cannot be compelled to testify against themselves. This right can be invoked by remaining silent and telling the court that you wish to speak to an attorney before answering any police questions. Unfortunately, police officers often imply that defendants will have a better chance of avoiding harsh criminal penalties if they freely provide information about the alleged crime. If you were arrested, do not fall victim to this interrogation tactic. Police do not have the authority to offer reduced jail sentences or leniency in exchange for cooperation during an interrogation.
Grundy and Will County Criminal Defense Lawyer
These are just a few of the rights afforded to criminal defendants in the United States. If you have been accused of a crime, you have these rights and should exercise them.