Understanding Your Rights as a Criminal Defendant

Last Modified: February 1, 2024
By: Thomas HogleFebruary 3, 2023 |

No one likes to imagine the likelihood of being charged with a crime, as a conviction can have serious consequences. Thankfully, a Mesa criminal defense attorney from Canyon State Law can relieve you of much of the stress and worry associated with a criminal case. They will guide you through your legal options and help protect your rights as a defendant.

By understanding your rights as a criminal defendant, you can confidently prepare for the difficult situation - if it occurs. At Canyon State Law, we're keen to inform you about your fundamental rights under the US Constitution and how they can benefit you when facing a criminal charge. Let's discuss them in detail below.

The Right to Stay Silent

Most people are familiar with Miranda rights, which state that you have a right to remain silent and not answer questions posed by law enforcement officers. This means anything you say during an arrest can be used against you in court. Thus, you should inform the officers that you wish to remain silent until your attorney is present.

If you decide to speak up or field their questions, you could incriminate yourself unknowingly. In turn, this would make it harder for your attorney to defend you in court.

We know; you might be tempted to answer questions hoping law enforcers let you off the hook. Plus, you might be unaware of the consequences in the heat of the moment. While the police are allowed to question you, they may employ specific tactics to get you talking. Please don't fall for their antics. Instead, let your attorney handle them, which leads us to our next point.

The Right to an Attorney

The Constitution states that anyone facing criminal charges has the right to legal representation and can hire a lawyer or rely on a public defender if qualified. Simply put, even if you can't afford a criminal lawyer, the government can provide you with an attorney at no cost.

Even if you plan on pleading guilty, having an experienced defense attorney in your corner can help ensure your rights are not violated during the process. For instance, they can help negotiate on your behalf to secure a favorable plea agreement or a lesser sentence.

If you decide to go it alone, the odds of a successful legal outcome are low - and your rights may be overlooked. For instance, the prosecutor may introduce incriminating evidence to help the court make a guilty verdict. And since you may not understand the law, you’re unlikely to distinguish between admissible and inadmissible evidence.

The Right to a Fair Trial

A fair trial is guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution, which states that all defendants shall enjoy “the right to a speedy and public trial.” This means your attorney can cross-examine witnesses, challenge evidence presented by the prosecution on the grounds of legality, and present your case in court.

Besides, the evidence presented must meet certain guidelines before it can be considered valid or permissible in court. This includes admissible statements you make while under police questioning, witness statements, and physical evidence collected.

You also have the right to know your accuser, including the charges they're leveling against you. Sometimes, people end up in police custody without an idea of the offenses they're being accused of - if this is your situation and the police aren't forthcoming, inform your attorney. They'll take the necessary steps to find out.

You can also call witnesses to testify on your behalf or present evidence as part of your defense. Their testimony can dispute the prosecution's evidence and reduce your sentence if found guilty.

A trial by jury usually determines the outcome of your case. The jury comprises impartial citizens who review all evidence and testimony before reaching a verdict. The jury's duty is to protect your rights and ensure justice.

The Right to a Speedy Trial

When you’re arrested and charged with a criminal offense, the prosecution may stall the trial to build a strong case against you. This shouldn't be the case, as the Constitution guarantees a prompt trial.

Your attorney can file a motion to reduce or dismiss your charges if the prosecution violates this right. If the court deems it fit to hold a trial, you can demand a speedy trial.

The Right to a Presumption of Innocence Until Guilt is Established

A criminal trial doesn't mean you're guilty - you're only considered guilty if the verdict is 'guilty.' Until then, the law presumes you are innocent, and it's the prosecution's job to prove you committed the crime.

Your attorney can explain this principle during the trial and present sufficient evidence to back you up. If you're found not guilty, the charges against you will be dismissed, and you can walk away a free person. Conversely, a guilty verdict isn't always the end of the road, as the point below explains.

The Right to Appeal

You can appeal the court's ruling if the jury finds you guilty. To do this, you need a competent criminal attorney. They can file a motion for a higher court to review the decision or set aside the verdict.

The court examines the trial transcripts and new evidence before ruling. It also reviews the court's instructions during the trial to determine if they conformed with the law. For instance, if the lower court overlooked a technicality, then the higher court may reverse the decision.

Canyon State Law’s knowledgeable attorneys regard your rights as a criminal defendant as paramount. As such, we protect them throughout the trial process. We also treat you with respect and dignity as we advocate on your behalf. We're also aware of the implication of a criminal conviction. As such, we battle relentlessly (hard and long), using available legal resources to help you get a favorable outcome - an acquittal or reduced charges. Consider exploring our website at https://canyonstatelaw.com/mesa-criminal-defense-lawyer/ for insightful resources as you start a conversation with us or as we evaluate your case.

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Thomas Hogle
Thomas Hogle is a Principal Attorney at Genesis Criminal Defense and DUI Lawyers, leads a dedicated legal team specializing in criminal defense and DUI cases, offering comprehensive and skilled representation to clients facing legal challenges.
21321 E Ocotillo Rd Suite 125, Queen Creek, AZ 85142

Genesis DUI & Criminal Defense Lawyers - Peoria AZ Office

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