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2 important constitutional amendments in criminal cases

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Being charged with any type of criminal offense is a serious matter. Even convictions for misdemeanor crimes can result in fines and jail time, and this is certainly the case for felony convictions.

The U.S. Constitution provides anyone facing criminal charges with fundamental rights. Here are two important constitutional amendments to keep in mind.

The Sixth Amendment

It is a common misconception that someone changed with a criminal offense must have done something wrong. Being charged, however, does not amount to a conviction. All suspects in criminal cases are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and this is enshrined in the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Sixth Amendment also grants suspects the right to:

  • Know the details about the charges against them
  • A fair public trial
  • Swift justice
  • Counter statements that are made by the prosecution’s witnesses

The burden of proof lies with the prosecution. If the evidence does not prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused, then the accused must walk free.

The Fourth Amendment

This protects people from the right to unreasonable searches and seizures. While the police have a host of powers at their disposal to investigate criminal accusations, they are also under an obligation to act within the law. How evidence was obtained can be closely scrutinized in criminal cases.

Evidence often comes from searches and seizures conducted by law enforcement. For example, drugs may be seized in a home search. However, to conduct a search, the police must have a valid warrant or probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed unless the situation is an emergency.

These are just two important constitutional amendments to remember. You should also consider your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent until you have sought legal guidance.