Five Things to Know if the Police Violate Your Rights in California -



Five Things to Know if the Police Violate Your Rights in California

Five Things to Know if the Police Violate Your Rights in California

Five Things to Know if the Police Violate Your Rights in California

If you have been accused of committing a crime in California, the United States Constitution as well as the laws of the State provide for specific legal rights for you. From the point of your detention as a suspect to formal arrest, you should know what your rights are, and enforce them personally or through your criminal defense attorney as the case may be.

The following are the five rights which you should know in order to be informed and take relevant action where you believe your constitutional rights have been violated.

  1. The right to be free of unreasonable government searches and seizuresThe Fourth Amendment of the US constitution protects you from illegal seizures and searches by law enforcement officers. This means that police are not allowed to search you, your home or belongings and/or seize any property from you without a search warrant sanctioned by the court after showing probable cause.This amendment is about protecting the freedom of privacy and unreasonable searches or seizures by law enforcement agents. On the flip side, searches and seizures with reasonable cause are allowable, and you, your belongings or home may still be searched if:
    • The circumstances justify a search without first getting a search warrant
    • Law enforcement agents have probable cause/reason to believe they will find evidence of a crime, at which point a judge will issue a search warrant

    The law applies to searches where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and this expectation is also objectively reasonable i.e. society recognizes its existence.

  2. The right to remain silentThis right is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution which protects you from self-incrimination. This right was confirmed by the Supreme Court in the Case of Miranda vs. Arizona, from where the rights officers advice people of at the point of arrest were christened Miranda rights.

    The Fifth Amendment gives people a privilege against self-incrimination, from where it was derived that:-

    • What they say after being advised of these rights is admissible in court against them
    • They have right to counsel and to have counsel present at every questioning
    • A lawyer will be appointed to them if they want but cannot afford to hire for themselves
    • Should they choose to answer questions from the police, the interview can be stopped at any time
  3. The right to have an attorneyThis right is enshrined in the US Constitution and ensures you have a right to have “assistance of counsel”. The attorney can be present during all police questioning sessions, and also for any hearings before a judge and trial. Once you ask to speak with an attorney, the law enforcement officers must stop questioning you until the attorney arrives.

    If the defendant cannot afford to hire their attorney, the government will appoint a public defender to represent them at the government’s cost. This applies to all important phases of a criminal trial case against you, from the point of arrest to appeal following conviction.

    This assistance includes protecting the defendant’s constitutional rights, advising the defendant on their rights and what to expect at every stage of the process, negotiating on the defendant’s behalf for a plea bargain and putting up an effective defense throughout the trial process.

  4. The right to be treated humanelyThe Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution safeguards the public from unusual and cruel punishment. Once you are arrested and detained, the police have no right to beat or torture you while in holding cells or during questions, or to deprive you of food and water to get you to talk to them.

    This Amendment also prohibits degrading or inhuman punishment or treatment, and encompasses a range of mistreatment actions against a defendant.

  5. The right to a speedy trialThis right is protected under the Sixth Amendment in a clause christened the ‘Speedy Trial Clause’ as well as the ‘Due Process Clause’ found in the Fourteenth Amendment. Once you have been arrested and formerly charged with a crime (called arraignment), the prosecution is not allowed to purposely delay the commencement of your trial process. In the state of California, your trial must commence within 60 days of your arrest and arraignment.

    The aim is to minimize unjustified imprisonment, minimize anxiety following anticipation of trial and to protect the defendant’s ability to put up a defense e.g. memories fade with time and evidence can disappear.

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