The U.S. Constitution provides foundational rights for all Americans. These rights remain intact for those suspected of criminal activity and for those facing criminal charges. If your rights have been violated during any step that led to you being charged with a crime, then there may be certain remedies available or made available to you as a result. This is one of the big reasons that you should always be mindful of your interactions with law enforcement. You may be overwhelmed, emotional, and distracted by what is going on, but try to keep a cool head. Write down details of your interactions as soon as possible. Any constitutional violations can play a key role in your defense strategy down the road.
The Role of Constitutional Violations in a Defense
There are several ways your constitutional rights may have been violated during your interactions with the criminal justice system and law enforcement. For instance, have you heard of Miranda rights? You may be familiar with them from crime dramas on TV or in the movies. Your Miranda warnings must be provided to you by law enforcement when you are under arrest. The rights laid out in Miranda warnings come from the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Fifth Amendment grants the right to self-incrimination. The Sixth Amendment grants the right to legal counsel. A failure to be informed of your right to counsel or of your right to remain silent can play a critical role in your defense when faced with criminal charges.
If you were not provided with your Miranda warnings by law enforcement at your time of arrest, any admissions, or statements you made after you were arrested could be found inadmissible in court. Depending on how much the prosecution is planning to rely on such admissions at trial, having them thrown out could be devastating to their case. As a result, you may be offered a more favorable plea deal. Your charges may be dropped altogether. All of this will, of course, hinge on things like other evidence available in the case, the negotiating technique of your attorney, and many other factors.
Another constitutional violation that can play a major role in a criminal defense strategy is the right against unlawful search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment provides protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, including law enforcement. In order to have a legal basis for the search and seizure of property, law enforcement must have probable cause for the search or a warrant. If the search is found to be unlawful, any evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful search could very well be deemed inadmissible at trial. As with the Miranda violations leading to statements being tossed out, evidence being deemed inadmissible can sometimes prove crippling to the prosecution’s case resulting in better plea deals, charges being dropped, or a not guilty verdict at trial.