Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Your Constitutional Guarantees in Criminal Court

The United States Constitution provides protection for people accused of committing crimes. One of these protections is the right to be represented by an attorney. If you are in Nevada, you will want the services of a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney. A Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer is well-trained in the law and will work hard to see that your constitutional rights are defended.

The first right provided to all citizens is the presumption of innocence. That is, the court assumes that you are innocent unless the prosecutor can prove otherwise. This presumption is not actually in the Constitution, but it is implied through the 5th, 6th and 14th amendments. This is the reason that, when you are brought into court, you plead not guilty. It is then up to the prosecutor to prove your guilt.

Another right says that you can't be held in jail for an undetermined length of time. Speedy trials are a right all Americans are born with. You have the right to petition to either have your plea tried or to be released from detention. This petition is called a writ of habeas corpus. This right is considered to be one of the most efficient safeguards to your liberty. Under this right, they can't "lock you up and throw away the key" before you have been tried.

You've seen it on television and in the movies a hundred or more times. The police officer stops the suspect and "reads him his rights." It starts out, "You have the right to remain silent" and informs the suspect that he has the right to have legal representation. This right has to do with the Fifth Amendment, one of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment prevents the suspect from having to do or say anything that would incriminate him. Under ancient societies, an accused person would be tortured into giving a confession. Under this torture, the suspect would probably end up confessing even if he were innocent. The Fifth Amendment prevents this situation from happening because it says you don't have to say a word. It's up to the prosecutor to prove your guilt.

Another right guaranteed by the Constitution is the right to have your case heard and decided by a jury of your peers. Having a jury trial assures you of being heard openly and fairly. Again, this right means that the court can't keep you in a secret place and come up with an arbitrary decision. All arguments must be made in the open. Normally, the jury's decision must be unanimous.

The Constitution prevents certain laws from being passed. No law that is passed can be applied retroactively. This means that, if you carried out a certain action today, the government couldn't prosecute you if they passed a law against that activity next year. The prohibition against passing ex post facto laws is spelled out in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution.

The law is complex. You don't have enough knowledge to survive alone in court. To ensure that your rights are upheld, you need a competent lawyer.

Chuck Stewart has been researching a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer to see if he would do a good job on a co-worker's case. He has found one especially competent Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer the co-worker should hire.

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