If you are charged with a criminal offense, you have several rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. One important right is the right against self incrimination. This simply means you have the right to remain silent at all times. Oftentimes it is wise to consult an attorney before deciding to talk to the police. Even though the police may pretend to be your friend, it is their job to find sufficient probable cause to make an arrest. An easy way to establish probable cause is through a confession. Law enforcement also does not have to tell a suspect the truth. United States courts have consistently held that law enforcement can trick a confession out of a suspect and that confession will not be suppressed at trial.
Sometimes law enforcement will ask that a suspect take a polygraph examination (lie detector test). A person has the right to refuse to take the polygraph exam. You should only consider taking a polygraph exam if there is no doubt in your mind that you did not commit the offense. You will not be able to trick the polygraph exam or examiner. Many people have tried and usually end up confessing once confronted by the examiner. It is normally wise to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney and take a private polygraph exam before attempting one administered by law enforcement.
Another right citizens have is the right to have an attorney present when being questioned by law enforcement. The criminal defense attorney can make sure that law enforcement does not ask inappropriate questions. The client will not have to worry about being intimidated or coerced by the police. If the client has any questions during the interview, they can always stop and ask the attorney during the interview. The aforementioned rights can be exercised before being charged with a crime.
Once a person is charged with a crime, there are more rights that a person has. At a trial, every Defendant has the right to an attorney. The Defendant has the right to confront his accusers through cross examination. The Defendant has the right to subpoena witnesses to testify in his behalf. The Defendant has the right to testify in his own behalf at trial, or the Defendant can choose not to testify at trial. In addition, the judge will instruct the jury that they cannot use the Defendant’s right not to testify against him in their deliberations. The burden of proof is on the government at all times. The Defendant does not have to prove his innocence. The burden of proof in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest in the law.
These are some of the constitutional and common law rights people have when being investigated and/or charged by law enforcement. Please contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Koon Cook & Walters, LLC for a free initial consultation if you are a suspect or charged Defendant so we can explain all of your legal options.