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Do I have any rights if I am accused of a criminal offense?

Many people enjoy a crime show on television occasionally and can claim they know a lot about their constitutional rights, having heard the Miranda Warnings multiple times. However, the full warning is seldom broadcast and the truth of the matter is that Silver Spring residents may not be fully aware of their constitutional rights if they are arrested. Knowing your rights is very important, because if they are violated it must be brought up as part of the criminal defense and evidence or statements collected in violation of these rights may be disallowed from a trial.

In addition to being informed that the arrested person has the right to remain silent, it is essential to inform the arrested that anything they say can be used against them. Informing someone of the consequences of speaking is just as important as informing them of their right. Secondly, if you have requested an attorney during questioning, as is everyone's right, and the police have denied the request, this is a violation of your constitutional rights. As a consequence of asking for an attorney, the police can no longer ask questions until the attorney comes.

Unfortunately, in some situations the arrested person may believe they can handle the questioning on their own, sometimes because they have a false sense of confidence and sometimes because they know they haven't committed any crime. However, it is possible that you may change your mind midway through questioning and request an attorney then. This is still allowed, and all questioning must cease until the lawyer comes.

There are a number of other constitutional rights you have, including being treated humanely, not being held unfairly for an extended period of time, being given a speedy trial, not being treated guilty before a conviction and not being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment while imprisoned. Being aware of these rights is essential for everyone, not just those who are arrested for a criminal offense. Those whose rights have been violated may want to consider discussing their situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Getting arrested checklist: have my rights been violated?" Accessed on Oct. 26, 2015

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