Know Your Rights
There is never a more important time for you to be fully aware of all your rights than when you are charged with a crime. The Constitution of the United States guarantees those rights, which include the following:
The Right To Remain Silent
Once you are accused of a crime, you will find yourself the subject of questioning either prior to or during court proceedings. You, the accused, have every right to refuse to give an answer or a comment, regardless of how intense the questioning can get. Generally, invoking your right to remain silent is invoking your right against self-incrimination as stated in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The Right To Counsel
According to the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, every criminal defendant has a right to have legal representation every step of the way, not just during criminal trials. Ideally, the accused should have a lawyer from the moment of his or her arrest, right through the appeals process if he or she is convicted. If the defendant does not have the means to get the services of a lawyer, the state will appoint one for him or her at no cost.
The Right To A Trial By Jury
Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and the Sixth Amendment explicitly states that anyone accused of a crime has a right to a trial by jury under most circumstances. A criminal defendant also has the right to a public and speedy trial. However, the offense must be serious to warrant a trial by jury. According to the Supreme Court, a trial by jury will only be held in cases where the offense carries a potential sentence of more than six months’ imprisonment. Petty offenses, on the other hand, merit a trial by judge.