When America’s Founding Fathers formed the country, they had a deep distrust of powerful government officials and lawmakers. This distrust of government entities led them to create the United States Constitution, laying out the first 10 Amendments, known as the Bill of Rights. Thanks to the Bill of Rights, if you are arrested and charged with a crime, you have certain constitutionally-protected rights as a citizen.
Fifth Amendment Rights
The Fifth Amendment grants several very important rights. This Amendment is where the right to remain silent when talking to police officers comes from. You don’t have to answer questions that might incriminate you or your spouse. This works for questioning by both police officers and in a court of law. You also have the right to have an attorney present before you are questioned by law enforcement.
The Fifth Amendment requires an indictment by a grand jury before you can be tried for a federal felony offense. The “due process” clause of the Fifth Amendment guarantees you the right to a fair trial. The Amendment also prohibits the government from placing you in double jeopardy, which means that you can’t be tried twice for the same crime.
Sixth Amendment Rights
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a person accused of a crime with several rights, chiefly the right to a speedy and public trial before an impartial jury of their peers. Furthermore, the accused must be informed of the nature of the charges and evidence against him. Also, a defendant has the right to be present in the court when witnesses testify against them and to call witnesses to testify on their behalf.
Under the Sixth Amendment, a person accused of a crime has the right to be represented by an attorney. If the accused cannot afford an attorney, the government must provide them with one, which is where a public defender would be brought in.
Eighth Amendment Rights
The Eighth Amendment protects all citizens from cruel and unusual punishment as well as from a judge imposing excessive bail. Judges must be fair when sentencing convicted criminals, and the punishment must fit the crime. A judge must also set reasonable bail for people accused of crimes.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, understanding your Constitutional rights is essential to successfully defending yourself against any criminal charge. In addition to understanding your rights, you need to immediately contact a criminal attorney for professional advice after you have been arrested and charged with a crime.
Claire Stewart is a freelance writer and blogger focused on writing about health, travel, and business among other topics. She graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelors in Women’s Studies and currently lives in Seattle with her goldfish, Merlin.