Your Rights When Accused Of A Crime


Being accused of a crime can be someone’s worst nightmare. If you’ve been arrested, you are probably worried about how to get yourself out of jail prior to the trial. Do you need bail money? You might also be wondering how you’re going to afford an attorney to defend yourself. If you don’t have the necessary funds, how do you get a court appointed lawyer? An arrest usually raises too many questions that you don’t know how to answer.

When individuals don’t have any legal training or experience with the criminal justice system, it’s unlikely they’re aware of all of their rights. This is why individuals should contact an attorney right away after being arrested. A criminal defense lawyer like Jessica McElfresh will not only explain your constitutional and San Diego criminal rights to you but will aggressively protect those rights when working with the police or prosecutor.

Your Rights With the Police

When you’re stopped by the police and arrested, it can be hard to keep a clear mind. You’re scared and nervous. You probably want to do whatever you can to get out of the situation. But if you understand your constitutional rights, you’ll know what to do and how to get through the process as smoothly as possible.

There are many restrictions on how the police can behave toward you, and you have many rights to protect yourself from police abuse or intimidation, including:

  • The right to due process, which means to not be deprived of life, liberty or property without legal authorization
  • To be free from unreasonable searches and seizures
  • To be treated humanely
  • To be told you are being arrested
  • To be told the charges against you
  • To be told your constitutional rights, known as the Miranda rights
  • To see any relevant warrant within a reasonable time after your arrest
  • To contact someone to tell them you’ve been arrested and the charges
  • To consult with an attorney and speak with your attorney privately
  • To a court appointed attorney if you cannot afford one yourself
  • To remain silent
  • To stop answering questions at any time
  • To a reasonable bail or bond, unless you’re charged with a capital crime
  • To see a judge within a reasonable amount of time after the arrest

You shouldn’t argue with the police about your innocence while you’re being arrested. Arguing can seem like resisting arrest, which may lead to further criminal charges. Even if you know you’re innocent, it’s best to follow the police officer’s instructions. When you arrive at the station, maintain your right to silence and your right to an attorney. This is the best way to handle the situation and ultimately prove your innocence.

Your Rights in Court

After being arrested, you’ll likely go through a trial to prove your innocence. The judicial system in the U.S. is heavily regulated and you have additional rights during this time, including the right to:

  • Due process
  • Be represented by an attorney
  • Adequate representation by your attorney
  • A jury
  • A speedy trial
  • A public trial
  • Maintain your innocence until proven guilty
  • Defend yourself
  • Confront witnesses
  • Present evidence

Also, the government must provide evidence of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be convicted.

You do not have to sit silently while you’re accused of being a criminal. With or without an attorney, you have the right to tenaciously advocate for your innocence. You can provide your own testimony or call witnesses. You can question the prosecutor’s witnesses. While you can work alone, having a trained lawyer represent you means you’ll have a skilled litigator presenting evidence in the best light to your case and pointing out weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument. It’s best to have someone who knows their way around the courtroom.

Your Rights After the Trial

Whether you’re found innocent or guilty, you have certain rights once the trial is over, including:

  • To motion the judge to overturn the jury’s guilty verdict
  • To move for a new trial
  • To appeal the conviction or the sentence
  • To not be tried twice for the same offense

Even if the judge or jury finds you guilty, the legal process isn’t finished. Your rights permit you to continue striving to prove your innocence.

Rights While in Jail or Prison

If you were found guilty and sentenced to time in jail or prison, you are not without all of your rights. You have certain rights, including but not limited to, the right to:

  • Due Process
  • Be free from cruel and unusual punishment
  • Be free from sexual harassment
  • Be free from discrimination
  • Practice free speech and your religion
  • State your concerns about prison conditions
  • Medical care
  • Reasonable accommodations, if disabled

A San Diego Criminal Rights Lawyer Can Help

When you’ve been arrested and accused of a crime, the police are not on your side. During questioning, the police can lie to you and in some situations, they will try and intimidate you, no matter what the rules say. Under the law, the police can use anything you say after being arrested against you in court and they certainly will.

The police may not be in your corner, but your attorney is. Jessica McElfresh takes your rights and her job very seriously. She will get to know you and every facet of your case in order to build a strong defense. She will be honest and explain the process every step of the way so that you never feel like you’re in the dark.

If you’ve been accused of a crime, call Jessica McElfresh today at (858) 756-7107.