As a citizen, resident, or visitor of the United States, you have certain inalienable rights under federal law. While you undoubtedly learned about these rights in school, it is a good idea to refresh your memory from time to time. If you have been charged with a crime, remember that you have rights. Better understanding these rights can help ensure that you maximize their benefits throughout your criminal defense.
The Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and they delineate our most enduring and powerful legal rights. These rights have been carefully interpreted, expanded, and refined by the courts over the years. The amendments that most directly affect your criminal defense include:
First Amendment – The First Amendment provides us with the right to free speech, assembly, and religion. This allows us the freedom to say what we want to say and to gather freely without fear of government intervention.
Second Amendment – The Second Amendment provides us with the right to bear arms. As you are no doubt aware, this amendment sparks a good deal of controversy, but we do have the right to have and bear arms – within the parameters of state and federal laws.
Fourth Amendment – The Fourth Amendment provides us with the right to privacy. This means that we all have the right to be free from illegal searches and seizures of our property. Further, every search warrant must be predicated on probable cause. There are exceptions, however. For example, the police are not required to obtain a warrant when they are in hot pursuit of a suspect or when evidence of a crime is in plain view. (Your 4th Amendment Rights and Police Searches & Seizures)
Fifth Amendment – The Fifth Amendment provides us with the right not to be held in government custody unless we have been legitimately accused of a crime. It also protects us from being tried for the same crime twice, from being forced to testify against ourselves, and from having our property taken by the government without compensation.
Sixth Amendment – The Sixth Amendment provides us with the right to a speedy trial. This amendment also provides that we are innocent until proven guilty, that we have the right to legal counsel, and that we have the right to confront our accusers/witnesses.
Eighth Amendment – The Eighth Amendment provides us with the right not to be levied with excessive bail and not to be punished in a manner that is either cruel or unusual.
If You Are Facing Criminal Charges, Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
Criminal charges are serious charges, but you have important rights that apply throughout the process. If you have been so charged, attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, has the dedication, experience, and skill to help you. Mr. Pritchard is on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at (254) 220-4225 for more information today.