If you’ve been accused of committing a crime, you have rights – but what are they, and do they depend on your situation? Here’s what you need to know.
What Are Your Rights if You’re Accused of a Crime?
Regardless of your citizenship or immigration status, criminal history or anything else, you have rights if you’re accused of a crime in the United States. In a broad sense, you have the right to:
- Remain silent
- Know the charges against you
- Avoid incriminating yourself
- An attorney (which can be paid for by the state if you cannot afford one)
- Reasonable bail
- A speedy, fair and public trial
- Confront witnesses who are testifying against you at trial
You are presumed innocent until proven guilty, too. That means the prosecutor in your case is responsible for proving your guilt – you aren’t responsible for proving your innocence.
Here’s a closer look at your rights.
The Right to Remain Silent
Your right to remain silent means that you don’t have to answer questions when the police want to interrogate you.
The Right to Know the Charges Against You
You have the right to know why police are arresting you, and if you’re formally charged, you have the right to know what the charges are.
The Right to Avoid Incriminating Yourself
You have the right to avoid saying anything that might make you look guilty.
The Right to an Attorney
You have the right to legal counsel, and if you cannot afford a lawyer, the court may appoint one for you (which you do not have to pay for).
The Right to Reasonable Bail
You have the right to reasonable bail, which means a judge can’t put you in jail for shoplifting a magazine and say that you must pay millions of dollars to get out.
The Right to a Speedy, Fair and Public Trial
You have the right to a speedy, fair and public trial. That means the system can’t leave you in jail for years before you get your day in court – and that when you do go to court, you’re tried fairly and publicly so that people can see if you are treated unfairly.
The Right to Confront Witnesses
If people are testifying against you, you have the right to counter what they say.
Have You Been Accused of a Crime?
If you’ve been accused of a crime – anything from retail theft to homicide – we may be able to help you. Call us at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation and answer questions about your case.