Q: What rights do I have if I am charged with a criminal offense?
A: When an individual is arrested for a criminal offense, his or her rights are protected by the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America. These amendments include rights regarding search and seizure, Miranda rights, self-incrimination, double jeopardy, and the right to counsel. It is important to remember that your rights are complex.
Q: What are my Miranda rights?
A: Miranda rights are warnings that must be read to a suspect in police custody before the suspect is interrogated. While these warnings generally must always be given, there are exceptions to almost every rule of criminal law. Your Miranda rights are: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak with an attorney, and have that attorney present when you are questioned by law enforcement. If you are unable to afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you.
Q: What happens if the police don't read me my rights?
A: Many people believe that if the police fail to read Miranda rights then their criminal case must be dismissed. Unfortunately, that is usually incorrect. If the police fail to read a suspect his or her Miranda Rights, certain evidence may be inadmissible at trial. inform your attorney as soon as possible if the police fail to read you your rights.
Q: How do I invoke my right to remain silent?
A: Recently, the United States Supreme Court released a decision requiring a suspect to tell the police that they are invoking their right to remain silent. you cannot simply be silent in response to police questioning. You MUST tell the police that you are invoking your right to remain silent and do not wish to be questioned.
Q: If I am in jail, how do I get a bond/bail?
A: In most criminal cases, a person will go before a judge at an initial appearance called arraignment. Bond is usually set at arraignment.
Q: How is bond set?
A: At arraignment, the judge considers many factors in determining the appropriate bond for the person accused. Notable factors include public safety concerns and whether the accused is someone that will return to court.
Q: How do I pay bond?
A: A judge can set different types of bond. Depending on the type of bond, it can be paid to the clerk of courts or to a bail bondsman. Some bondsmen are willing to accept property as collateral to pay bond. Additionally, some defendants are not required to pay bond if the judge believes the person meets certain criteria. In this situation a person has received an "on recognizance" or "O.R" bond. They simply sign a bond sheet promising to come to all future court dates.
Q: Can I represent myself in my case or do I need to hire an attorney?
A: You do have the right to represent yourself in your criminal case. Just because you have the right to represent yourself does not mean you should. Criminal cases involve complex rules and procedures. You should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with a crime.
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