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May 30, 2024

Criminal Defense Strategies: Understanding Your Rights

You have heard the buzzwords of criminal law in the news and in movies, but.

Criminal Defense Strategies: Understanding Your Rights

You have heard the buzzwords of criminal law in the news and in movies, but you do not think about what they really mean unless you are being accused of a crime. Innocent until proven guilty. Reasonable doubt. The right to remain silent. The legal details make all the difference in criminal cases. The criminal process has many steps, and the jury enters only toward the end, if at all. In other words, most people who hire criminal defense lawyers do not go to trial before a jury. Instead, the lawyers resolve their cases in other ways. If you get arrested, the best thing to do is to exercise your right to remain silent and wait until you can discuss your case privately with your lawyer. After you meet with your lawyer, you will have a clearer idea of what strategies to use in your case and what a favorable outcome would look like. If you are being accused of a crime or are under investigation, contact an Arizona criminal lawyer.

The Rights of Defendants in Criminal Defense Cases

The constitutional amendments in the Bill of Rights outline the rights of defendants in criminal cases. These rights apply to everyone, regardless of immigration status and country of citizenship. In other words, they apply not only to United States citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals who are present in the United States with an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa but also to undocumented immigrants and to foreign nationals accused by U.S. law enforcement entities of crimes that occurred outside the United States.

These are some of the most important rights of defendants in criminal cases:

  • The right to remain silent, to avoid self-incrimination, and to refuse to answer questions from police
  • The right not to be arrested without a warrant or without probable cause
  • The right to representation by a criminal defense lawyer, whether or not you can afford to pay for legal representation
  • The right to a fair trial with an unbiased jury and without unnecessary delays

If the police or the court violated your rights, it could lead to the judge excluding certain pieces of evidence, the jury acquitting you, or even the court dismissing your charges before your case goes to trial.

Why Do So Many Defendants Plead Guilty?

Pursuant to these rights, judges exclude evidence that prosecutors obtained through illegal means, and appeals courts overturn convictions that resulted from unfair trials. Despite this, fewer than ten percent of defendants charged with crimes plead not guilty. If defendants have the presumption of innocence and prosecutors must follow so many rules when trying to prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, why do so many defendants decide to admit guilt without even going to trial? The answer is plea deals and sentencing guidelines. For any criminal charges, judges may hand down a sentence within a range of acceptable punishments, and judges usually choose lighter sentences when defendants plead guilty. Sometimes prosecutors and defense lawyers negotiate plea deals, where a defendant will plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. For example, if the penalty for your care is probation or jail, the state can promise to give you probation. If the penalty is two to ten years in prison, you can get two years by accepting a plea deal but risk a much longer sentence if you go to trial.

Different Types of Criminal Defenses

If you plead not guilty to your charges, your next step is to choose the most relevant and effective defense strategy. No two criminal cases are alike, but defenses to criminal cases tend to fall into several broad categories:

  • You did not commit the crime.  Instead, you were somewhere else, the person who appears in the surveillance camera footage is not you, or a witness falsely accused you.
  • Your actions do not meet all the criteria for the crime, even though they meet some.  You took the jewelry, but it was not theft, because the legal owner of the jewelry has given you permission to take it.  This is called an affirmative defense.
  • The prosecution’s evidence is not strong enough to remove reasonable doubt about your guilt.  There are other plausible interpretations of the prosecution’s evidence besides the interpretation that the prosecution is presenting.
  • A prosecution witness has ulterior motives for accusing you.  For example, the witness may be trying to conceal his own criminal activities, and perhaps even received a plea deal or immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony.

Sources

https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/bill-of-rights

A Tempe criminal defense lawyer can help you get acquitted or negotiate a plea deal in your criminal case.

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