Bicycle Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense Lawyer

What Rights Do You Have When Charged With a Crime?


■ Right to jury trial

■ Right to remain silent and right to not have your silence mentioned or used against you at trial

■ Right to testify and present evidence at trial

■ Right to subpoena witnesses against you to force witnesses to come to court and testify for you at trial

■ Right to a unanimous verdict- all 12 jurors must agree you are guilty or not guilty, less than 12= mistrial

■ Right to confront witnesses against you in court and right to cross examine them

■ Right to make the State prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

What many people do not understand is that just because someone is charged with a crime it does not mean they are guilty. Even if the person charged did everything the prosecutor alleges, he or she is not "guilty" unless he or she admits to the crime or is found guilty after a trial. In the United States, a person is "presumed innocent." This means that unless the person waives all of the above rights knowingly and intelligently in court and admits to the crime in court, the person is innocent. If the person does not admit to the crime in court, the State must prove the person is guilty. Each crime has certain elements that must be proven in court by the district attorney. If even one of these elements is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is not guilty. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard in American Jurisprudence. Because people who get convicted of crimes can lose their liberty (go to jail and prison), the law is wise and holds a prosecutor to a very high standard. The presumption of innocence is sometimes hard to fathom. Many prospective jurors will readily admit during voir dire that they feel a defendant would not be in court unless they did something wrong.

Unfortunately most lay persons do not spend much time in courtrooms. Because of this, most lay persons assume anyone charged with a crime has to be guilty, police never lie, etc. You will notice this when reading the comments sections of news articles. People say things like a person should be killed or tortured etc. before the person has been found guilty. Fortunately, our forefathers created a system that requires proof of guilty before punishment.