Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer

Understanding Your Rights as a Criminal Defendant — Part I

Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyerFor the average person, being arrested and charged with a criminal offense is a terrifying experience, particularly if the charges are serious. The most important step you can take to protect yourself and your future is to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. In the meantime, a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer offers a brief explanation of some of your most important rights as a defendant.

Your 4th Amendment Right against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures can be found in the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which reads as follows:

“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.”

The strength of the protection afforded by the 4th amendment has been watered down somewhat by the courts that have interpreted it over the years; however, in general, it stands for the concept that a law enforcement officer cannot conduct a search of your person, property, or things without first obtaining a warrant that must be based on probable cause. Probable cause, in turn, requires a logical belief, supported by facts and circumstances, that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed or that evidence of a crime will be found at the location to be searched.

Your 8th Amendment Right to Bail

Your right to bail can be found in the 8th Amendment which reads as follows:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

When arrested and charged with a criminal offense, almost all defendants have the ability to secure their release while the case is pending once the court sets bail. Exactly how much that bail should be set at is where the controversy can be found in this right. According to one well-known case, “bail is “excessive” in violation of the Eighth Amendment when it is set at a figure higher than an amount reasonably calculated to ensure the asserted governmental interest.” Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1, 4 (1951) When applied correctly, the “test” for determining an appropriate bail amount means that a judge should only consider factors such as the risk to the community, severity of the charges against the defendant, and the likelihood that the defendant will appear for all future court dates when setting bail.

Your 6th Amendment Right to Trial by Jury

Your right to a trial by jury is located in the 6th Amendment, which reads as follows:

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.

The right to a trial by jury, like all your Constitutional rights, is your right to exercise or to waive.  Waiving your right to a trial by jury means that you have decided to enter into a guilty plea agreement with the State or you wish to try your case to judge, known as a “bench trial” or “trial by judge.” Be sure, however, that you discuss the issue of a jury trial early on with your defense attorney because in some jurisdictions a defendant must ask for a jury trial within a specified period of time in order to preserve the right to have his/her case decided by a jury.

Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have additional questions or concerns about your rights as a defendant in a criminal prosecution in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.

Stan Bennett
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