When someone is arrested and charged with a crime, a number of provisions outlined in the U.S. Constitution protect their civil rights. Unfortunately, when people do not realize that they have these guaranteed protections, the anxiety and fear that they experience during a confrontation with law enforcement can leave them feeling helpless and intimidated. When excessive force is used on a suspect during detainment or over an extended period of time, it can make the situation seem far worse.
Knowing what to do if you are stopped or pulled over by the police is essential. Interactions with law enforcement can escalate quickly, as we have seen and heard in the news. When people know their rights, they can diffuse a heated situation when they remain calm and realize the officer’s limits. If their rights have been violated during the encounter, there will be a strong defense against future charges.
Civil rights protections
U.S. citizens who have been arrested and accused of a crime are protected under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. These protections include:
- The protections articulated under the Miranda Rights, which include the right to remain silent, to not bear false witness against oneself and the right to a trial by Grand Jury, plus the right to legal counsel, are covered under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. The “double indemnity” clause of the Fifth Amendment also protects someone from being charged twice for the same offense.
- Due process rights that guarantee the equal and fair treatment of the accused and protections against prolonged detainment are covered for federal cases under the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment for state cases.
- Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by federal authorities is found under the Fourth Amendment. The exclusionary exception that bars evidence illegally gathered from being introduced at trial is covered under both the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
- Protection against cruel and unusual punishment is found under the Eighth Amendment and requires that punishment be handed out fairly and consistently, even for capital crimes.
For New York City and Brooklyn residents, having aggressive and knowledgeable criminal defense representation on your side will help you to protect your rights and build a strong defense if you are accused of a crime.