Criminal and civil charges may differ in weight, but a charge is still a charge. If you are held liable or sued by an individual or party, or arrested by a police officer, you should know your rights.
“But why should I bother learning these rights? I’m not even a criminal!” You might say.
That may be true. But even in a large city such as Kent, WA, you can still be mistaken as a criminal or can be wrongfully charged by another person. A defendant has certain rights found in the United States Constitution. With one of these rights, the defendant can opt to get legal counsel — a criminal defense attorney.
So, what do you do first?
There is the right found in the Fifth Amendment and in the Miranda rights. This means a criminal defendant is protected from self-incrimination. You then decide with or without legal counsel when to speak and defend yourself.
Remember that “anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law”. So, it’s best to keep quiet and collect your thoughts while planning your next move.
Ask for legal aid
Also found in the Constitution is The Right to Representation. With this, a defendant can request private legal counsel before heading into trial. If you cannot afford an attorney, a judge will then appoint a public defender for your trial. Look for an attorney that has an extensive and successful career in criminal defense. That lawyer might be your ticket out of this legal battle.
Guilty or not, if you find yourself in the crosshairs of a legal battle, find pieces of evidence to support your claims. An attorney can only do so much. Evidence can be testimonies from other people, physical, digital, and so on. With your shared knowledge and cooperation, you might be able to get out of the terrible situation. Remember that the evidence you gather must be lawfully obtained. Anything other than that might put you into more danger.
Bail is set by a judge to compensate for the defendant’s wrongdoing should he/she be charged guilty. Bails are set depending on several factors, such as the severity of your criminal charge, your criminal history, and your mental and physical health.
Bail will not always be available should the judge determine it. Violent and more destructive charges are often denied bail and heavier sentences can be imposed.
If found innocent, the defendant can file a countersuit. A countersuit should always be in direct response to the suit brought against himself/herself.
Winning the legal battle is enough for most people. Countersuits are available should you need reparations for any financial or emotional damages suffered throughout the ordeal. Don’t forget to consult your attorney if you want to file a countersuit.
This guide is readily available for everyone who is facing a criminal charge. It is important to stay calm and call a lawyer right after you receive the warrant of arrest, so you can protect and exercise your rights.