A great thing about being an American is that our justice system is designed to ensure that all citizens are innocent until proven guilty and have certain rights that must be observed in the process of proving guilt.
Unfortunately, criminal defense lawyers frequently find that many citizens have no idea of their rights or how to exercise them during traffic stops, personal or home searches, and other similar situations.
To protect yourself and make sure that your rights are upheld, criminal defense attorneys stress that you understand the three most important rights you have as provided in the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments in the U.S. Constitution.
Exercise these rights whenever necessary and if you think your rights are or have been violated, contact a defense lawyer immediately.
Fourth Amendment - Unreasonable Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment states that you may not be subjected to an unreasonable search or the seizure of your property during that search without a warrant and probable cause.
A police officer may not search you, your vehicle, or your home or other personal items without a warrant that is sought on the basis of probable cause.
As simple as this may sound, criminal defense lawyers stress that the Fourth Amendment has many gray areas and is frequently incorrectly interpreted.
In addition, the law has flexed over the years to now allow police to perform warrantless searches of a person they arrest, areas that are in plain view or within reach, and areas when there is a strong suspicion that someone could be in danger.
These additional permissions when added to the issues of unclear interpretation have unfortunately led to many unlawful searches and seizure of property.
If you are ever been searched without a warrant or had your property confiscated, speak to a defense attorney right away.;
The Fifth Amendment - Due Process
Due process under the Fifth Amendment includes your right to:
- Not being held for a capital or other "infamous" crime unless properly indicted by a grand jury.
- Not say anything that might incriminate you.
- Not be charged twice for the same offense.
- Not be denied a fair trail.
- Not have your property seized without due compensation.
The most notable part of the Fifth Amendment is your right to remain silent as outlined by your Miranda Rights that must be read by law enforcement before speaking with them.
The Sixth Amendment - Right to Counsel
The Sixth Amendment states that if you are arrested, you have the right to
- Be represented by your chosen criminal defense lawyer or have one appointed if you cannot afford one.
- An impartial jury where the crime was committed.
- A speedy public trial.
- Be informed of the charges against you.
- Confront those who have accused you of a crime.
Know Your Constitutional Rights and Protect Yourself
Whether or not you have actually committed a crime, all the rights written in the Constitution of the United States apply to you that state you are innocent until a jury of your peers has proven you guilty.
Since it is not uncommon for mistakes to happen during criminal arrests that threaten your civil rights, it is vital that you understand the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments, how they apply in situations involving the police, and how you can protect yourself.
Most importantly, seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you are stopped and think your rights have been violated.
Garza & Elizondo, LLP
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
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2395 La Palma Street, Suite A
San Benito TX 78586