The Constitutional Rights of Defendants in Criminal Cases
The United States Declaration of Independence declares that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable rights.” The legal system in the United States takes it as a given that taking away someone’s liberty, that is, sentencing someone to time in a prison or jail, is not something to be taken lightly. In order to receive such a harsh punishment, a person must either admit to committing a crime that would warrant a crime or else be convicted in a jury trial. The United States Constitution outlines the rights of defendants in criminal cases. In an ideal world, this would mean that all trials ended with a just outcome and that people would never be pressured into pleading guilty to charges of which they are actually innocent, but in reality, defendants in criminal cases are vulnerable to having their rights violated. If you are accused of a crime, a good criminal defense attorney who understands your rights will ensure that you have every opportunity to exercise them.
Constitutional Amendments Pertaining to the Rights of Defendants
- The Fifth Amendment – The Fifth Amendment guarantees the right to due process. Due process means that you cannot legally be punished for a crime until after you have entered a guilty plea or have been convicted of that crime. The amendment also states that defendants must not be pressured into making self-incriminating statements.
- The Sixth Amendment – The Sixth Amendment is concerned with fair trials. Every person who is charged with a crime has the right to a jury trial, in which the defendant can present evidence of his or her innocence. The trial must begin in a timely manner, but the defendant must receive advance notice of when the trial will take place. This way, the defendant can call witnesses to testify to his or her innocence.
- The Seventh Amendment – The Seventh Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, which it defines as punishments that are disproportionately harsh in relation to the crime. It also prohibits financial abuse of defendants in the form of unfairly expensive fines and bail amounts.
The Miranda Rights
Since the 1960s, police arresting a suspect (who may become a defendant in a criminal case) must read the suspect the Miranda warning, in which they notify the suspect of his or her rights as a defendant. These rights include the right to be represented by an attorney and the right not to respond to questions without the attorney being present. The purpose of the Miranda warning is to make sure that defendants understand their right to due process and their right to avoid self-incrimination.
Contact Bundza & Rodriguez for Legal Representation in Criminal Cases
In criminal cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Contact Bundza & Rodriguez in Daytona Beach, Florida for legal representation that will make the clearest possible case for your innocence if you are facing criminal charges.