Being accused of a crime can be one of the most frightening experiences
of a person’s life, especially if they have never dealt with the
criminal justice system before. If you have been charged with a crime,
it can be confusing to know who is on your side or even know what your
rights are during the trial process. While many people are aware that
a defendant in the United States is presumed innocent until proven guilty
and that the prosecution must prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt, criminal defendants are afforded several other constitutional rights
which must be honored at all times.
Under the United States Constitution, your rights as a criminal defendant
are as follows:
Right to remain silent: The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that a defendant
may not be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against
himself.” In other words, you have a right against self-incrimination
and cannot be forced to speak. If you choose to remain silent, known as
“pleading the Fifth,” the prosecution cannot call you as a
witness, nor can a judge or attorney force you to testify.
Right to confront your accuser: The Sixth Amendment’s “confrontation clause” gives
you the right to cross-examine witnesses against you in court. Witnesses
and accusers must appear in court to be questioned by your defense.
Right to a public trial: The Sixth Amendment also guarantees you a public trial in criminal cases.
This means that your family and friends, ordinary citizens, and members
of the press may attend your trial – a factor which can be crucial
to ensure your rights are observed during trial.
Right to a jury trial: The Sixth Amendment also gives you the right to be tried by a jury, except
if you are charged with a petty offense carrying a six-month jail sentence
or less. Traditionally, this has been interpreted to mean a 12-person
jury, though juries can be constitutionally valid with as few as 6 members.
In most states, you cannot be convicted unless a jury verdict is unanimous.
Right to a speedy trial: The Sixth Amendment also gives you a right to a “speedy”
trial, though exact time limits are not specified. Judges are given the
power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a defendant’s trial
has been delayed so long that the case should be dismissed.
Right to an attorney: The final right afforded to you under the Sixth Amendment is the right
to have the assistance of legal counsel. If you are unable to afford an
attorney, the government must provide you with one at its expense.
Right to adequate representation: The United States Supreme Court has ruled that defendants have a right
to receive adequate counsel, or a lawyer who does a reasonably good job
at defending a defendant during both trial and plea bargaining.
Right against double jeopardy: Under the Fifth Amendment, you may not be tried for the same offense
more than once. You can, however, be brought to both criminal court and
civil court for the same offense.
Depending on the severity of your charges, your chances of securing a favorable
outcome may only be as good as the attorney you have by your side. If
you are facing charges, it is urgent you contact an aggressive
New Braunfels criminal defense lawyer from Kyle Law Firm as soon as possible to ensure your constitutional rights
are guarded at all times throughout your case. With more than 60 years
of combined legal experience, we have what it takes to protect your wellbeing
and minimize your chances of conviction.
Call (830) 476-7780 or
contact our firm online today to get started.