What Are My Legal Rights?

Legal RightsThe Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution guarantees civil rights for every citizen. Sadly, many of these rights are violated when police officers investigate a crime, conduct an interrogation, and make an arrest. You may think that police misconduct must be in the form of excessive force or abuse for your rights to be violated — this is not true.  Your constitutional rights can be violated by something as simple as an officer searching your vehicle without probable cause. You have civil rights that protect you during a traffic stop, the investigation of a crime, during questioning, while you are in custody, and during the trial of your case. These rights protect you from unreasonable and illegal actions by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges.  It is critical that you understand your constitutional rights and when those rights are being violated. Below are just a few of the rights you are afforded as a citizen. Our attorneys urge you to contact our office to discuss these rights, and other rights, that you have that may help us win the criminal case being prepared against you by law enforcement.

The Fifth Amendment — Your Right to Remain Silent

It is very important for you to understand that you do not have to answer questions either before or after you have been arrested. Many people confuse the Miranda Rights with their Fifth Amendment rights. They believe that if the officer does not read the Miranda Rights, the officer cannot begin questioning the person. However, this is not true. A police officer does not need to issue your Miranda Rights to arrest you or question you. The information obtained may not be used in court if the officer did not read your Miranda Rights, but the information could be used to further the case against you. You must be careful not to answers questions that could provide information that can lead officers to additional evidence that could incriminate you.  However, you must exercise your right to remain silent. You cannot simply sit in a room and not speak at all. You must tell the officer you are exercising your right to remain silent and not answer any questions until you consult with a Michigan criminal defense lawyer.

The Sixth Amendment — You Have the Right to Legal Counsel

You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning and court hearings. You have the right to receive legal counsel and have an attorney represent you in the case, but you must request an attorney. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, a public defender may be appointed by the court to represent you against the criminal charges. However, if you can hire a Michigan criminal defense lawyer, it is in your best interest. A private attorney has more resources and does not have an overwhelming case load that prevents the attorney from providing individualized and attentive representation.

The Fourth Amendment — Protecting You from Illegal Search and Seizure

It is equally important to understand this right because many people believe they must consent if the officer states he is going to search their vehicle, property or person. However, the Fourth Amendment requires the police to have a search warrant, probable cause, consent, or reasonable suspicion to conduct a legal search and seizure. Unfortunately, many people do not know that they are not required to provide consent because officers often make the request sound like a command.  Do not give your consent to a search and seizure. The officer may conduct the search; however, if your attorney can prove that the search was illegal, any evidence found during the search may be inadmissible in court.

Other Rights That Are Important in Criminal Defense Cases

Some of the other rights the U.S.  Constitution provides individuals that can be very important when planning your criminal defense case include:

  • The right to refuse to say anything that might incriminate you for a crime;
  • The right not to be tried twice for the same crime if a judge or jury has already found you innocent of that crime;
  • The right not to have illegally obtained evidence used against you in court (i.e. evidence from an illegal search and seizure);
  • The right to know the criminal charges against you;
  • The right to have time to prepare a defense to criminal charges;
  • The right to a timely trial by a judge or a jury of your peers;
  • The right to be treated with respect and fairly while in custody (i.e. prohibits use of torture and undue punishment during custody);
  • The right to be treated the same as all others (i.e. cannot be discriminated against);
  • The right to confront anyone who is accusing you of a crime and ask those individuals questions under oath;
  • The right to testify on your own behalf; and,
  • The right to enjoy the presumption of innocent until, and unless, you are proven guilty in a court of law.

There are many rights that the Constitution gives citizens to protect their individual freedoms and rights. If you are charged with a crime, you want a Michigan criminal defense attorney who understands the laws related to the crime, but who also has a thorough understanding of constitutional law to ensure your rights are protected.

Call Our Lansing Criminal Defense Attorney for a Free Appointment

The attorneys of The Clark Law Office can help protect your constitutional rights. You have the right to have an attorney with you during every step of the criminal process and you need a criminal defense lawyer at your side, especially during questioning and court appearances.

To request your free legal consultation with a Lansing criminal defense attorney, contact our office by telephone at 517-347-6900. For your convenience, we have offices in Okemos and Lansing.