Defending yourself against a criminal charge can be an uphill task. Even something as simple as a DUI can turn out nasty if you are not careful with how you approach it. You need to do everything possible to defend your rights because every criminal charge comes with hefty fines, penalties, and jail terms if you are found guilty.
When a criminal charge has been filed against you, make sure you do everything possible to defend your rights. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney can be a good starting point for your defense. The attorney will help you understand the different elements of the crime you have been charged with and the defenses you may have.
Most importantly, you need to be fully aware of all your rights and don’t allow anyone to violate them. After all, you remain innocent until proven guilty. So, what rights are guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States that you need to defend? Let us find out.
1. The Right to Remain Silent
When law enforcement officers or the jury questions you during court proceedings, you have every right as the accused person to refuse to answer questions or comment on certain things if you don’t want to.
Remaining silent can be a powerful tool, especially if you think that whatever you say may be used against you. So, your silence is a way to avoid self-incrimination as outlined in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
2. Right to Leave
If you are not under arrest and haven’t been given your Miranda rights under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, you can and should definitely leave. However, if a law enforcement officer stops you, be sure to oblige because you are unsure if they want to arrest or question you.
So, the best thing is to stop and ask the officer what they want. If they say that you are not under arrest, feel free to leave and contact an experienced criminal attorney right away to help you determine your next course of action.
3. The Right to an Attorney
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S Constitution guarantees that every criminal defendant has a right to be represented by an attorney of their choice. If the defendant can’t afford to hire an attorney, the state must provide one for him or her at no cost at all.
Remember that the right to representation isn’t limited to criminal charges alone. You have a right to legal representation no matter the type of charge you are faced with.
As long as you are charged in a court of law, the constitution grants you a right to have an attorney every step of the way, from the moment you are arrested/ summoned right through the appeals process after conviction.
4. Right to Privacy
Your right to privacy is outlined under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S Constitution, and you shouldn’t allow anyone to violate it.
Under this amendment, you have a right to be fully protected from unreasonable searches and property seizures. Unless the law enforcement officers have a valid search warrant, you have a right to refuse to allow them to search your property, car, or anything else that belongs to you.
If they insist on searching your property without a valid search warrant, call an attorney immediately and let him/her help you protect your rights.
5. The Right to a Fair Trial by Jury
If you are accused of committing a criminal offense, you will most likely be arrested and charged in a court of law.
Under Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States, you have a right to a trial by a jury. The same right is reiterated under the Sixth Amendment. And it is not just a fair trial by a jury; the trial must be public and speedy.
However, in a landmark ruling of the case between Baldwin vs. New York, 399 in 1970, the Supreme court made it clear that only serious criminal offenses that carry a potential jail sentence of more than six months merit a trial by jury.
It means that petty offenders will have no other option but to settle for a trial by a judge. But the trial must still be fair and speedy.
What Should You Do If the Police Want to Interrogate You?
If the police bring you in for questioning, don’t go alone. This is the right time to exercise your right to an attorney to ensure you don’t give out information that could be self-incriminating.
If you haven’t hired a criminal attorney yet, be sure to do so immediately before you have any further discussions with the police.
Sometimes, the police may insist that they want to interrogate you even if you don’t have an attorney. Don’t fall for their tricks. Instead, remain firm and insist that you can only be interrogated in the presence of your attorney.
They will most likely yield to your demand and allow you time to hire an attorney or give you a chance to seek the services of a state-provided attorney.
Remember that police officers are fully trained to use different tactics to make suspects talk to them and give out critical information. Your attorney can spot such tactics instantly and help you avoid them.
Your attorney will also provide you with helpful tips on how to handle the police questions given your specific situation. They will help you remain calm and handle the queries with confidence.
Don’t Assume Law Enforcement Officers Always Plays by the Rules
One of the biggest mistakes that most people make when they have been accused of criminal charges is believing that the law enforcement officer will do everything properly and legally. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
In most cases, law enforcement officers fail to adhere to the constitution, especially when conducting searches and seizures. When such violations of your rights are discovered, be sure to inform your attorney so they can address the matter in court.
If you suffered from excessive force or were treated outrageously by the law enforcement officers, don’t be afraid to speak up. These violations must be fully addressed and responsible officers held accountable for their actions.
Naphtal is the brand manager at Legal Giant and a highly experienced content writer. Legal Giant is a leading car accident law firm with clients all over the US. When Naphtal is not working, he enjoys spending time with his son and exploring nature.