Rights If Charge with a CrimeOver 20 Years Fighting Injustice
What Are My Rights If I'm Charged with a Crime?
If you are charged with a crime, you have the right to an attorney. It’s a right that everyone should exercise. In picking that lawyer, make sure you pick a lawyer who is experienced and who has served their time in the criminal justice system. That right to an attorney is sacred. It's provided to us by the United States constitution. Your right to have an attorney is a law. However, don't squander that right by thinking you don't need one. Don't squander that right by choosing a lawyer who doesn't have that experience to get you the best result.
Focused on Proving Your Innocence
Now after that, all of us have the following rights in any criminal matter.
- You have the right to confront and cross-examine any witness against you. Whether it is alleged victim or other witness, from police to civilians, you have the right to confront them and sit in the same room when they testify and have your lawyer ask them questions.
- You have the right to present a defense in your case.
- You have the right to use the subpoena power of the court free of charge, to summon witness and evidence to that court on your behalf. Not only do you get to provide and have witnesses brought to court, you also have the right to produce evidence. Whether it is documents, photographs, or other tangible items, that might tend to prove your innocence.
- In order to present that defense, a core layer is that you have the right to conduct an investigation. Any time you seek out a criminal defense team, make sure they are prepared to do any or all of the necessary investigation on your behalf. Trust me, law enforcement investigations is focused on proving you guilty, you need a team that is going to focus on proving your innocence.
- You have the right not to testify in any case if you choose not to. We also call that the right to remain silent. If you sit at council table during the jury trial and you elect not to testify, the court has to instruct the jurors, that the exercise of that right cannot be used against you. Keep in mind, in front of a jury, in any criminal matter, you as a defendant have the right to testify if you want to. And it is important for your criminal defense team to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of you taking the witness stand. The fact of the matter is most people need to take the witness stand if they can and look over at that jury and plead their case to them personally. The connection with the jury can be critical to some clients in establishing their innocence and achieving a not guilty verdict.
Proving the Case Beyond Reasonable Doubt
Keep in mind, that in any criminal case you have the right to a trial by jury. Where 12 members of the community will sit and they hear the evidence in your case. In order for you to be convicted before a jury, all 12 of those jurors must unanimously agree that the prosecution proved that case beyond a reasonable doubt. Their unanimous verdict is required, which is the standard of proof.
In order to achieve a not guilty verdict, we believe every time we need to go in there and affirmatively establish your innocence. Because our goal at trial is to have all 12 jurors unanimously agree to vote not guilty. When they all 12 unanimously agree to vote not guilty, that’s an acquittal and our client goes free. To reach that, we need to show the DA's office did not prove the case, beyond reasonable doubt. All we needed to show is that doubt. Give those jurors a reason to doubt. Those are your essential rights when you appear on a criminal case.
Now there is one more we’d like to throw in.
If you are charged with a felony, there is an additional proceeding that must occur called a preliminary hearing. That's a Probable Cause hearing before a judge and long before you case ever gets in front of a jury. The prosecution must establish before a judge with live testimony. Probable cause that the crime was committed. That being the case, in every aspect in these criminal rights you need the best team to provide you the maximum effect of those rights. Don't squander your rights by having a poor lawyer not take advantage of them.
Here at West Coast Defense, we have more that 25 years of experience in criminal justice system. You can count on us to make sure that not only your rights will be protected, but they will be adequately utilized in establishing your defense. Call today to learn more.
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