The Constitution of the United States guarantees specific rights for people who have criminal charges. Unfortunately, the police and the prosecutor may not be overly concerned with making sure that they take into account and respect your rights. That’s where your attorney comes in. There are many specific ways that your attorney can fight to make sure that you are getting the treatment and opportunities that the Constitution guarantees to you from the moment of your arrest and through every step of the judicial process.
Your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights
The Fifth Amendment grants you the right to remain silent during police interrogation and other proceedings, and to avoid self-incrimination. The Sixth Amendment gives you the right to have an attorney present during interrogation, when you have to appear in court and other key moments in the judicial process.
If you clearly and unequivocally invoke these rights, the police must cease their interrogation immediately until your attorney arrives. Once there, your attorney will be able to counsel you on how to answer the police’s questions in a way that does not incriminate you or undermine your ability to present a defense to the charges in court.
Other advantages of having an attorney present
Attorneys have special training on how to identify illegal and improper questioning techniques. For example, if the police require you to stand in a line-up, your attorney can object if the police set up the line-up in a way that makes you stand out improperly.
An attorney will also make it much easier to prepare an effective defense. They can help you to decide what strategy you want to use in your defense, including which witnesses to call, whether to request a jury trial or not, whether you should testify or not, and how to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses effectively.
Attorneys have an essential role in safeguarding the rights of those who are facing criminal accusations in the court system. Just because you have criminal charges does not mean that you will necessarily be convicted. You have the right to talk with your attorney and prepare a solid defense to present in court.