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Your Constitutional Rights As A Criminal Defendant

Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by Lizanne Padula.

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You have numerous rights under the Federal Constitution and the Washington State Constitution. Your rights exists even when―especially when―you are a criminal defendant and the State is accusing you of committing a crime. Our criminal defense firm wants you to have a basic understanding of your rights so that you are empowered to exercise them. If you are facing criminal charges, we urge you to hire a criminal defense attorney so that you can mount a strong legal defense and ensure your rights are protected.

The right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution creates the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure. In general, you have the right to refuse a search of your property or vehicle in the absence of a valid search warrant. However, if law enforcement officers have a search warrant or a valid exception to your Fourth Amendment right is present, you must submit to the search.

The right to remain silent.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States grants us the right against self-incrimination―the right to remain silent. If you are being questioned by law enforcement regarding a crime, it is usually in your best interest to remain silent. You do not have to answer questions posed to you by law enforcement. When talking to the police never lose sight of the fact that anything you say may potentially bolster the State’s case against you and/or harm your ability to defend yourself against criminal charges. Be polite but firm in your desire to remain silent.

Your right to remain silent extends to situations when being interrogated by law enforcement and when testifying in legal proceedings.

The right to a speedy trial before a jury.

The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees criminal defendants a number of rights, including “the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”

The right to confront your accuser.

The Sixth Amendment also guarantees the right “to be confronted with witnesses” against you and “to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor[.]” You have the right to cross-examine any witness proffered by the State. Further, you have the right to proffer your own witnesses in support of your defense.

The right to be presumed innocent unless and until the State proves each element of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

The presumption of innocence is a constitutional principle. To secure a conviction, the State must prove each element of the crime(s) charged beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest legal standard.

The right to an attorney.

You have the right to be represented by an attorney during any police interrogation and during any legal proceeding. Exercise this right. If you do answers questions, your attorney will be there to protect your rights and ensure you do not offer statements that will bolster a criminal case against you.

Also, know that once you ask for an attorney the police are no longer supposed to interrogate you until your attorney is present.

Defending Against Criminal Charges

If incriminating evidence against you was obtained in violation of your rights, you may be able to suppress that evidence from being used against you at trial. The Exclusionary Rule generally prevents the State from using evidence gathered in violation of your constitutional rights.

Criminal defense attorneys work diligently to Motion the Court to get evidence suppressed at or before trial so that the jury never sees it. When we get a key piece of evidence in the Prosecution’s case suppressed, this gives us leverage to have the charges reduced, dismissed, or to negotiate a favorable plea agreement.

The laws encompassing the rights afforded by the U.S. Constitution and Washington State Constitution are complex and nuanced. Hire a criminal defense attorney to advocate for your rights and mount a strong defense against aggressive prosecution.

The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC can defend your rights and help you fight for a just resolution. A smart, well-planned defense aimed at dismantling the Prosecution’s case against you is critical to obtaining the best possible outcome in your case.

Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366 or contact us here to schedule a free case consultation today.

We invite you to read about our demonstrated results here, and learn more about founding attorney, Lizanne Padula here.

Padula & Associates, LLC handles State and Federal criminal cases throughout Washington State, including King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Lewis Counties. Our firm’s experience is extensive and our success is frequent.