Anyone who has been charged with illegal activity is protected by our United States legal system. One of the hallmarks of an oppressive government is the loss of an individual’s rights. When the Founding Fathers wrote the constitution, it was important to them to ensure individual rights were protected. This included the civil liberties of those accused of crimes. If you or someone you know is need of criminal defense in Columbia SC, it is important to know your constitutional rights.
The constitution assures each American citizen the privilege of something called the Writ of Habeas Corpus. Having this right basically means that the government cannot put you in prison without telling you why you are there. In addition, it is the responsibility of the government to justify its reasons for holding you against your will. Although there have been recent exceptions made to this constitutional right by the Patriot Act in regards to suspected terrorist activity, most Americans dealing with allegations of illegal acts have nothing to do with terrorism and are not exempt from this constitutional right.
The Constitution also protects individuals from self-incrimination. This is commonly known as the right to remain silent, which is protected by the Fifth Amendment. It also means that a judge cannot make persons testify against themselves. This is a liberty so fundamental that additional court rulings that have been made which clearly state that every individual who is arrested must be told of this right immediately upon arrest.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution requires government officials to obtain a search warrant before searching or seizing evidence on private property. Protecting this civil liberty, as well as the right to remain silent, is one of the most important jobs of any lawyer specializing in criminal defense in Columbia SC.
Yet another right given by the Constitution is the right to a jury trial, or a trial by one’s peers. This is only guaranteed when one has been accused of a serious crime, and ensures that one isn’t victimized by an overly zealous prosecutor or police department. The idea is that bringing in a panel of impartial, unbiased citizens to calmly listen to the evidence presented by both parties will make sure that government lives up to its responsibility to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. Only then can the government imprison someone for a long period of time, or fine them a large amount of money. Not all cases that proceed to trial have a jury. In some cases, the accused waives his or her right to a jury trial, and in other instances the crime does not meet the legal requirements to be considered serious.
Other protections offered by the Constitution include the right that one cannot be tried for a crime again if they have been previously found not guilty. This is also known as protection from double jeopardy. Additionally, no penalty given for a particular crime can be excessive or cruel. This includes protecting prisoners from torture or deprivation of fundamental human needs, such as food, water, and medical attention.
The last thing that the Constitution of the United States guarantees its citizens is that they have the right to proper legal procedure being followed when they are accused of any crime. Individuals cannot be imprisoned or fined without certain legal guidelines being followed. Since the average person isn’t familiar with the finer points of criminal defense in Columbia SC, it is in everyone’s best interest for the accused to retain the counsel of an experienced attorney. Regardless of whether you expect to ever be involved in legal proceedings, the Constitution and the law are there to protect citizens of every community.
If you are involved in legal proceedings and want to protect your constititional right, contact a law firm specializing in criminal defense in Columbia SC right away.