Innocent Until Proven Guilty
In the United States, you are considered innocent of a crime until you confess to it, or are proven guilty in a court of law. Before you are considered a suspect, throughout the legal process, and even if you are found guilty of a crime, you have rights that must be defended. To ensure this, you need a proven criminal defense attorney at your side.
If you have been charged with a crime in Minnesota or North Dakota, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer ensures that your rights, as guaranteed under the Constitution, are protected. Even if you never have been or never will be arrested or accused of a crime, knowing your rights in a criminal case may help someone else who is facing criminal charges.
If you are looking for a criminal defense attorney in the Detroit Lakes, MN area, the law firm of Thorwaldsen and Malmstrom PLLP would be happy to provide you with a free consultation about your circumstances.
You Have Miranda Rights
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
This is referred to as the Miranda Warning. These rights must be read to you if you are being arrested. Even if you’ve never been arrested, you’ve probably heard people being Mirandized on television crime shows.
Did you know that, although these rights belong to you, it is up to you to invoke them? This means you must bring them into play in a clear and succinct way. You can’t be wishy-washy about it; you must act in a decisive manner that leaves no doubt what you are saying or not saying.
The Right to Remain Silent
Many people don’t know that, even if they’re just being casually questioned about an incident, you still have the right to remain silent and consult an attorney, even though law enforcement is not required to inform you of this at that time.
This is why, if you have been asked to stop by or phone the police station to discuss an incident or answer a few questions, or if a police officer stops by your house to speak with you, you should first contact a lawyer before engaging with them. Providing information in these situations is considered voluntary, yet anything you say or do during the conversation may later be used against you in a court of law.
Even Disclosing Information to a Friend Can Have Consequences
Not only does the right to remain silent pertain to your interactions with police, but it also includes the press, your friends, family members, or anyone else. Anything you say to anyone other than your attorney may be used against you in a court of law. Remain silent, even if you know you are innocent, and find a good criminal lawyer to advise you on when and where to speak.
Your right to not answer questions or provide information extends all the way into the courtroom. The Fifth Amendment states that a defendant may not “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
You do not have to provide testimony in your own criminal trial, nor can you be punished for not testifying in your own defense. Even innocent individuals have reasons for why they might wish to remain silent in the courtroom. Of course, this is something you should first discuss with your lawyer at the criminal defense law firm representing you.
You Have the Right to an Attorney
Criminal prosecutions and the legal process can be a confusing mess to anyone not educated in the law or familiar with how the justice system works. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that you have the right to an attorney. If you’ve been arrested and are being interrogated by law enforcement, you can say, “I want to speak with an attorney,” and all questioning must cease until you consult with a lawyer.
If you don’t have the money to pay for an attorney, you will receive a court-appointed lawyer. You also have the right to have an attorney present during interrogations.
You Have the Right to a Jury Trial
Under the Sixth Amendment, individuals have the right to a public and speedy trial by a jury of their peers. This trial is open to the general public, including the press.
You Have the Right to Confront Witnesses
Also falling under the Sixth Amendment is your right as a criminal defendant to confront witnesses and the person who accused you of committing the crime. Witnesses from the prosecution’s side must testify under oath. Under cross-examination by your criminal defense attorney, the testimony and behavior of these witnesses while on the stand may make the jury doubt their authenticity.
You Have the Right to Reasonable Bail
The Eighth Amendment states that individuals charged with a crime have the right to reasonable bail. This means the judge who determines the amount of your bail must ensure it fits the severity of the crime, while also considering your flight risk.
You Have the Right to Avoid Cruel and Unusual Punishment
If you are convicted of a crime, your basic rights as a human being cannot be infringed upon while you are incarcerated. Another of the Eighth Amendment’s guarantees, your sentence must be proportionate to the severity of the crime you have been found guilty of committing.
You Deserve to Have a Proven Criminal Defense Lawyer by Your Side
Being charged with a crime in Minnesota or North Dakota is no laughing matter. You really must take these accusations seriously and partner with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who will work diligently on your behalf to ensure your rights are not violated.
Contact Thorwaldsen and Malmstrom PLLP today to discuss your criminal case. This initial consultation will be of no cost to you. If you choose to hire us, know that we will listen to your side of the story, gather all of the facts, and mount a vigorous defense to clear your name.