The Colorado State Constitution and The Constitution of the United States provide the accused with many important rights in criminal matters. Your rights protect you from wrongful conduct by the police, and they entitle you to have an attorney and to other important procedural rights throughout your criminal defense case.
The Right to Remain Silent
The Right to Remain Silent is the most important right to know to begin with. Because your consultation with a criminal lawyer may not occur until after you have already been confronted by the police, it is essential that you exercise this right immediately. The right to remain silent remains with you throughout your entire criminal case. Even if your case proceeds to trial, you will not be required to testify. However, we may advise you to testify if it looks like that puts you in the best position to win your case. The law requires that you alone have the authority to make this decision.
Rights that Exclude Evidence Against You
If any or all of the evidence against you was obtained illegally, this may result in the evidence being thrown out in your case. Excluding, or “suppressing” this evidence may result in your case being dismissed. In other cases, it may only weaken the prosecutor’s case — which can still end up getting you a great plea deal. Such rights include, for example, the right against improper searches, improper arrests, coercive interrogations, as well as the failure to properly advise you of your rights, and so on. Your defense lawyer must examine the conduct of the police throughout their involvement with your case, and protect you when your Constitutional rights have been violated.
Your most important procedural right is your right to trial by jury. The right to trial places citizens of the community (the jurors) between you and the powerful arm of the government. Only if the district attorney convinces these people beyond a reasonable doubt of your guilt will you suffer any penalty. Included in the right to trial is the right to have the assistance of counsel at your trial, and your right to have your attorney cross-examine anyone that is a witness against you. Another example of a procedural right is the right against Double Jeopardy, which means that the prosecution can only try the case against you once. If they do not convict you, you can never be charged or tried for the offense again.
There is no substitute for the assistance of experienced counsel when you are facing a criminal charge. Your attorney will not only protect your rights, but will also help you to make the best procedural decisions as your case moves forward.