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Criminal Rights: Laws and Protections

Introduction to Criminal Rights

Criminals must pay their debt to society for their crimes so it may seem like they have no rights. But they do. From Miranda Rights to specific defendant’s rights the criminal does have rights. Criminals have a right to an attorney, likely assisted by a paralegal, and if sentenced, they have the right to an appeal. The American way is respect for all mankind even a criminal who has changed a victim or victims life forever.

The Constitution has several amendments that were written to protect a defendant from excessive charges, or intrusive behavior from law enforcement officials. The following are constitutional amendments that directly apply to criminal rights.

Constitutional Amendment IV — The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 

Summary:There has to be probable cause before a police officer can burst into a home for a search and he has to have a warrant to search. 

Constitutional Amendment V — No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Summary: The criminal is protected from a second trial once a “not guilty” verdict has been issued. The criminal also is given the right to justice and to not be proven guilty without due process of law.

Constitutional Amendment VI– In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.  The prosecutor who brings a case against a criminal cannot file extension requests to just keep the criminal in prison for an extended time. 

Summary:The right to a speedy and public trial is a criminal’s rights in America.

Constitutional Amendment VII – In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.  

Summary:The common law prevails to assure a trial by jury rather than a plea bargain or a sentence brought forth by only evidence.

Constitutional Amendment VIII — Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. 

Summary:The criminal has the right to have a reasonable bail set for the crime he or she committed and according to the actual flight risk which he or she may impose.

In 1963 a man known as Ernesto Arturo Miranda was arrested of charges he in fact admited after hours of interrigation, and was convicted, and sentenced 20-30 years. Miranda’s court apointed attorney argued taht he was not informed he has a right to counsel, and his confession was not volontary. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled upon this case, and declared that Miranda was unaware of the rights granted under the fifth amendent’s self incrimination clause, and the sixth amendments right to an attorney. The case was overturned, and Miranda was paroled after spending 11 years in prison. Because of this famous supreme court if the police start questioning a suspect, they can do that without announcing the Miranda Rights. And the information that is gleaned from that questioning is admissible into court because the suspect has not been arrested. If the suspect refuses to answer questions, then, he or she may be arrested. When the police arrest a criminal they have the responsibility under the law to read their Miranda Rights. The police must inform the criminal that he or she has the right to remain silent, a right to an attorney and if he or she does not have money for an attorney, one will be appoint.

The United States criminal justice system holds up the belief that the defendant is innocent until that is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she is guilty. But criminal defendants have other rights, too, including the rights to have a public rather than private trial and also a jury trial. Also, the defendant has the right to a speedy trial to eliminate a longer than usual imprisonment.

Maximum punishment in an environment of a retributive punishment system puts a proportional limit to the crime and in the end trial results, the victim decides what the appropriate sentence is for the criminal. Many feel that this would satisfy the goal of punishment for the criminal; a renewed focus on justice. 

Appealing a case gives the criminal and the criminal’s defense counsel the opportunity to file an appeal of the conviction and sentence. The defendant has the right to ask for “leave’ if the conviction results from his or her guilty plea. The appeal examination of the first trial record in order to confirm it was conducted fairly. When a criminal is found not guilty by a jury of his or her peers, the victim(s) have the right to file a civil suit against the criminal for the crime which was committed. The civil case will be for money damages that were suffered and it can also be against a third party if there is believed to have been physical or emotional injuries.

The convicted criminal also has the right to be acquitted or the sentence can be commuted. And besides that if the jury acquits a defendant the defendant cannot be put back on trial again even through the process of verdict appeal. When a criminal commits a federal criminal he or she can be pardoned by the president. The president considers the petitions that have been written by criminals requesting a pardon and then he has the options to give executive pardons. There is also a minimum waiting period after the completion of a sentence before the criminal is eligible to apply for a presidential pardon. The waiting period is five years.

Terrorism is relatively hard to define but has been described as a combination of a tactic and a strategy. Terrorism is, according to the Constitution of the United States and the laws that are embraced in Western civilization, a crime. According to those in the radical sector of Islamic beliefs, it is a holy duty.

Miranda Rights – Learn about the police responsibility to the criminal when being arrested;

Right to Remain Silent – Learn about a criminal’s right to silence;

Right to a Speedy Trial – Learn about speedy trial vs. long prison stay;

Goal of Punishment – Learn about retributive punishment;

Appeal – Learn about challenging an existing sentence;

Civil Case – Learn about civil vs criminal cases;

Acquitted or a Commuted Sentence – Learn about an acquittal or commuting a sentence;

Presidential Pardon –Learning about the possibility of the pardon of a sentence;

Terrorism –Learn about the meaning and description of terrorism.

Constitution of the United States — Learn about the laws of America.

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