When an individual is accused of a crime, he or she is guaranteed certain rights. For example, if you are accused of driving under the influence (DUI) or being in possession of illegal drugs, you have the right to receive counsel from a qualified attorney. You also have the right to defend yourself against criminal charges or accusations by sharing your side of the story during a trial. One of the most important rights a person accused of a crime has is the right to be innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence is one of the most fundamental principles of western law. If you have been charged with possession of an illicit substance, DUI, retail theft, assault and battery, or another criminal charge, read on to learn about how you can protect your rights.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
There are many phrases which are used in courtroom dramas and television shows that many people do not know the actual definition of. The United States Constitution does not explicitly explain the presumption of innocence. Rather, a defendant’s right to be assumed innocent until proven otherwise in contained in the language of the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S Constitution. The 5th Amendment includes both the defendant’s right to avoid incriminating himself as well as the Due Process Clause. This essential passage ensures that any person accused of a crime is given a fair and unbiased adjudication process. More specifically, the Constitution guarantees that no person will be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”
The phrase “burden of proof” is related to the assumption of innocence. In criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. This means that it is not the responsibility of the defendant to prove that he or she did not commit the crime of which he or she is accused. Instead, it is the job of the prosecution, often the state, to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant cannot be convicted.
6th Amendment Rights
The 6th Amendment to the U.S Constitution provides even more specific rights for criminal defendants, including:
- The right to be informed of the criminal accusations against him or her;
- The right to timely trial;
- The right to trial by jury;
- The right to challenge witnesses brought by the prosecution;
- The right to have competent legal counsel; and
- The right to compel witnesses to testify on his or her behalf.
Let Us Help
If you have been accused of a crime, do not hesitate to speak with an experienced oliet criminal defense attorney J today. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. today at 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation.