Everyone who is put on trial in any trial has a set number of rights that cannot be taken away from them. You have probably heard some of them on cop shows, but it is important that you know the other ones and know your rights overall, so that if you are ever arrested and put on trial you know how you are protected. Below are all of the rights you have as a defendant so you can best protect yourself if you are ever in this situation.
Right to Remain Silent
This is the one most people know by heart, as it is said by police right after someone is arrested. But it’s an important right, as you cannot be forced to speak, meaning the authorities cannot beat or intimidate you into making a false statement or saying something you don’t want to say. It may not seem like a lot but it’s a right afforded to defendants that separates the American justice system from many.
The Right to Confront Witnesses
If you are accused of something by someone, you are given the right to confront them and cross examine them in some setting. This does not mean the person who is being accused can or will do it, but rather their attorneys can do it and have the right to do if they so desire. The witnesses are required to come to court to look the defendant in the eye and explain what they saw. The defense is then allowed to offer other explanations and question the witness.
A Public, Speedy and Jury Trial
If the case does go to trial, all defendants have the right to have a trial that is open to the public to hear the testimony of, is a trial that is speedy and is ultimately decided by a jury of their peers. This aspect of the American justice system was the first of its kind when the country was founded and while most other nations have followed suit in the past centuries, America broke ground in this way. While it doesn’t filter out all corruption or innocent people from being thrown in jail or guilty people being allowed to walk free, it certainly helps.
Representation by an Attorney
All defendants have the right to be represented by an attorney, meaning someone who is trained and certified in the law. Defendants can hire their own attorneys or if they can’t afford it, will have one provided for them by the government. This will give them someone who is educated in law to defend them in all scenarios unless they wave this right.
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