Know Your Rights
When you're facing criminal charges in Indiana, it's essential that you both understand your legal rights in the criminal process and that you take the necessary steps to protect them. Failure to uphold your constitutional rights can inadvertently result in a miscarriage of justice and a wrongful conviction. Although our criminal justice system may be good, it's by no means foolproof and innocent people are sent to prison based on circumstantial evidence alone. Don't let this happen to you.
In the United States, when citizens are arrested on suspicion of committing a crime, their constitutional rights are immediately put into effect to ensure their right to fair criminal proceedings. These constitutional rights are listed in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution and must be followed by every state, city and county in the nation. Your rights in arrest are as follows:
- You have the right to be told what you are being arrested for, if there is a warrant out for your arrest then you have the right to see the warrant.
- You have the right to be treated humanely and without the threat of violence; however, police have the right to use force in order to protect their own safety.
- You have rights against illegal searches and seizures. Any evidence that was collected illegally is inadmissible in court.
- Your Miranda Rights must be recited by a police officer or interrogator, the Miranda Rights inform you of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. You are also warned that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to stop answering questions and ask to speak with an attorney and you have the right to speak with an attorney before you answer any questions or sign anything.
- In order for you to remain in police custody (usually around 48 hours), a formal charge must be made against you and you have the right to bail or bond unless you are being charged with murder.
- If you have been formally charged with a crime, you have a right to a hearing within a reasonably short period of time and you have a right to a fair and speedy trial.
What Happens After the Arrest
If you are arrested the police will handcuff you and transport you to jail for booking. At this time they will take a mug shot and fingerprint you for identification. If the police arrested you without a search warrant, they may ask you for permission to search your vehicle, your home and other possessions. You have the right to refuse consent to these searches. In most cases when an officer asks consent to search your property, it means that consent would require that a warrant be obtained from the judge, unless you give your consent and abandon this right. Only a judge can consent to allow a search and you aren't penalized for refusing consent of a search.
Knowing your rights can be confusing and you could easily be fooled into believing that you must consent to a search or talk to the police. It's absolutely critical that once you are arrested, you exercise your right to remain silent and your right to a Fort Wayne criminal defense attorney before you say or do anything that can be used against you.
Your Initial Hearing
The next step will be the initial hearing where you will be advised of your formal charges. At this time a preliminary bail amount will be set and you will be advised of your rights as well as any deadlines. The initial hearing can take place 24 hours after your arrest or the state can request a 72 hour continuance which is automatically granted as long as bond has been set. It's not uncommon for the court to set a pretrial conference or "further proceedings." At the hearing you can either plead guilty to the charges, arrange for a trial where a judge decides on your guilt or innocence, or you can choose a jury trial where your fate is in the hands of the jury. To learn more about your rights in the criminal process, contact me, Attorney Gregory A. Miller without delay.