In the United States, you are deemed innocent until proven guilty. This means that you have several rights even if you have been accused of committing a crime. Let’s take a closer look at what those rights are and how they impact what the government can do in its quest to prove its case against you.
You Have the Right to an Attorney
In some cases, it may be best to talk with authorities in an effort to clear your name or otherwise avoid being charged with a crime. However, you have the right to do so with an attorney present. Furthermore, making yourself available to talk to authorities does not obligate you to answer any of their questions. Those who are charged with a crime may benefit from using an attorney who specializes in that specific area of the law. For example, someone who is charged with investment fraud may want to hire a California investment fraud attorney.
The Fifth Amendment Protects Against Incriminating Yourself
If your case goes to trial, you have the right to take the stand in your own defense. Typically, you only take the stand if you feel like it bolsters your chances of winning or obtaining a favorable outcome. Therefore, you may not worry about incriminating yourself because you believe strongly in your innocence.
However, if necessary, you may use the Fifth Amendment as a tool to avoid answering a question. This tool may also be used during a deposition or at any other time during the legal process when you don’t want to answer a question. It is important to note that not answering a question does not imply guilt nor can it be used against you.
Spouses Can’t Be Compelled to Testify Against You
The prosecution may attempt to call your spouse to the stand to testify against you. However, the law says that they cannot be compelled to do so. This may be true even if you weren’t married at the time you allegedly committed the offense that you are charged with. It is important that the marriage is considered to be legitimate. If it is not, your spouse may be called to testify despite the protections ordinarily provided by law.
Evidence May Be Contested at Trial
Your attorney may make an effort to have evidence either thrown out or suppressed by a judge. This may happen if evidence was improperly collected or if witness testimony was inaccurate for any reason. If evidence is thrown out or suppressed, it cannot be used by a judge or jury when determining whether to convict you on any or all charges that you face.
Knowing your rights during the legal process could be the difference between not being charged with a crime and spending time in jail. Ideally, you will seek the advice of legal counsel who can advise you as to the best way to deal with authorities. While there is no way to guarantee an acquittal, legal counsel may increase the odds of getting the best possible result in your case.