Criminal Cases

Your Rights after Arrest 

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that as soon as you are taken into custody you must be informed of the following:

  • You have a Constitutional right to remain silent.

  • Anything you say can be held against you.

  • You have the right to legal counsel and that if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.

  • If you choose, you may have a lawyer present during interrogation.

In addition to advising you of your rights, the arresting authorities must respect your rights.  Within a reasonable time after you have been taken into custody, you have a right to make a reasonable number of phone calls or otherwise communicate with an attorney of your choice and a member of your family.  If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must be informed without delay of your right to contact your local consulate or embassy.

Your Rights in Court

You have a right to a reasonable time to prepare a defense before being tried in Court.  Whether or not you declined your right to be represented by counsel during police interrogation, you have the right to be represented by counsel in Court.  You are entitled to a reasonable time to obtain a lawyer of your own choosing.  If you want a lawyer and cannot afford one, the Court must appoint one to defend you.

You are entitled to know the charges against you and to have, without cost, a copy of the formal papers that contain the charge.  You are entitled to plead "not guilty."  If you do so you will be tried by an impartial jury unless you specifically waive your right to a jury trial.

You are not required to testify if you do not wish to do so.  If you do not testify, neither the judge nor the jury can consider your silence as evidence of guilt.  In the eyes of the law you are innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence presented in Court.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, the judge must inform you, before accepting a guilty plea, that a criminal conviction could result in immigration consequences, including immigration detention (custody) and deportation from the United States.

Penalties 

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