You have probably heard of the Bill of Rights. Depending on your age, you might even remember studying the Bill of Rights back when you studied the U.S. Constitution in elementary school. At that time, the Bill of Rights was likely nothing more than a history lesson that taught you about some vague rights you have. If, however, you are ever accused of a criminal offense, the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights will definitely take on a heightened importance. To ensure that you understand those rights, a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer explains the Bill of Rights in more detail.
A Brief History of the Bill of Rights
After the United States Constitution was created, a debate of sorts began between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, the two political “parties” of the time. The Anti-Federalists felt that the Constitution lacked sufficient protection for individual liberties. The Federalists felt that the States retained the power to safeguard individual liberties based on the fact that the Constitution left any power to the individual states if it was not specifically granted to the federal government. Ultimately, the Anti-Federalists won, resulting in James Madison writing the first Ten Amendments the U.S. Constitution. Collectively, these first ten Amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. Each one focuses on at least one individual liberty or right that Madison (and others) felt must be protected.
What Do The Amendments in the Bill of Rights Mean?
All of the Amendments within the Bill of Rights are important to you if you are a citizen of the United States. The following, however, are the Amendments that are most commonly linked to a criminal prosecution:
- Amendment IV — The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. This is where the warrant requirement comes from that prohibits the police from searching your person or property without a warrant unless an exception to the warrant requirement applies.
- Amendment V — No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. This prohibits you from being tried twice for the same crime and includes your right against self-incrimination.
- Amendment VI —In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense. This grants you the right to a speedy and public trial by jury as well as your right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against you.
- Amendment VIII —Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. This Amendment gives you the right to bail and is where the argument against the death penalty can be found.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a criminal offense or are the suspect in a crime in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.