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The 8 Most Important Rights for Criminal Defendants

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Mintzer Law

As a criminal defendant, many people feel as though they have nowhere to turn and are at the mercy of the courts. This is not true because even those accused of crimes still have rights as citizens of the United States. These rights ensure that a person is treated fairly by the justice system.

Right to an Attorney

One of the most important people to any defendant is their attorney. In order to ensure everyone receives this same privilege, federal and Texas state laws allow those who cannot afford an attorney to be appointed one by the court at no charge.

Right to Adequate Representation

This right guarantees the defendant will receive an attorney who is looking out for their best interest. If a defendant can prove an attorney isn’t doing this, the attorney can be dismissed and another attorney will be appointed.

Right to Remain Silent

This right applies during all investigations and inquiries by investigators. If a person feels they will not represent themselves correctly or simply doesn’t want to speak about an issue, they can remain silent.

Right to Confront Witnesses

A person has the right to know who is making claims against them. Their defense attorney also has the right to question these individuals during the court case. This protects defendants against people who would make accusations without actually appearing in the court room.

Right to a Trial by Jury

All defendants have the right to have a trial that is decided by a jury rather than a judge. These juries consist of 12 people who are chosen based on screening questions that are given before the trial starts. Both the prosecution and defense can oppose a juror based on answers to these questions.

Right to a Public Trial

A trial must also be open to the public to attend and witness the events. This protects defendants from a hostile court room in which the prosecution and judge or jury all but declare the defendant guilty before evidence is presented.

Right to Avoid Double Jeopardy

This right protects defendants from being charged with the same crime twice. This prevents the prosecution from charging a person for the same crime after they have been released or proven guilty and served their sentence.

Knowing When to Use these Rights

These rights are essential to every defendant and should be used when necessary to avoid wrongful prosecution. A skilled attorney can also help a client know when these rights should be exercised and are in the best interest of the case.

To learn more about defendants’ rights, schedule a free consultation with Rand Mintzer at 713-862-8880.