A criminal defendant is a person charged with the commission of a crime. It’s important to understand that if someone meets this definition of “criminal defendant,” it does not necessarily mean they are guilty.
Rather, it just means that their case is being actively pursued by law enforcement and has a right to due process under our judicial system. A criminal defendant should know a few key facts when they face criminal charges.
The Right To Remain Silent
The right to remain silent is a legal right that allows people who are suspected of committing a crime the freedom to not answer any potentially incriminating questions asked by law enforcement.
This means they do not have to provide evidence, answers, or explanations in relation to their case and cannot be forced into making self-incriminating statements.
This right can be exercised at any time during their questioning by simply stating “I do not wish to make any statement until I speak with my attorney”.
It is highly recommended that attorneys are always consulted before providing voluntary statements. That way, defendants do not unwittingly provide prosecutors with material evidence they could use in court later on down the line.
Understanding of Criminal Charges and Consequences
Another thing all defendants facing criminal charges must be aware of is what type of charge(s) they actually face and what the consequences are. Without this information, you won’t know how to proceed.
If you’re unsure about your charges, you should ask your lawyer to explain them to you. There’s no reason you should move forward without having as much knowledge as possible – your future is at stake.
The Right to an Attorney
All defendants have a fundamental right to counsel under both federal and state constitutions; this means that they have a right – whatever their financial position may be – to consult with an attorney before making decisions affecting their legal rights once they’ve been arrested.
If you are unable to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to you.
The Right To Be Free From Unreasonable Search and Seizure
This means that law enforcement cannot conduct warrantless and indiscriminate searches on your person or property without cause to believe you’ve committed a crime.
There are limited circumstances in which you can be searched without a warrant. If you believe you’ve been searched illegally, always tell your lawyer, as they may be able to have the recovered evidence excluded.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Under our justice system, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This places the burden on prosecutors to prove all elements of their case beyond any reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
In criminal proceedings, the defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means there must exist no other plausible explanation besides guilt for acts the accused is being charged with committing.
Why Criminal Defendants Should Hire a San Jose Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges, you may wonder whether you should hire San Jose criminal lawyers or represent yourself in court. Representing yourself is known as “pro se” representation and can be very difficult if not impossible for most people.
Criminal defendants need lawyers in order to advocate on their behalf both in court proceedings as well as during pre-trial negotiations. Here’s why you should hire a lawyer:
- They can investigate to see if law enforcement made mistakes or violated your rights; if so, they can file a motion to suppress to have that evidence excluded.
- A lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors to see if they can have your charges dismissed or reduced depending on the circumstances.
- If an agreement cannot be worked out or if you aren’t interested in taking a deal, your lawyer will prepare your defense and take your case to trial. They will present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make arguments on your behalf.
- They may be able to call upon expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf, which could significantly improve your chances at trial.
Our criminal justice system is a necessary and important part of society, but it can be hard navigating on your own if you’re charged with a crime. Working with an experienced lawyer who understands the nuances of the law is essential to ensure you receive fair treatment during the process. Don’t go through this alone. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.