If you are accused of a crime, you have some rights:
- You have the right to plead not guilty and to a trial before a court or a jury trial.
- You have the right to be represented by a Lawyer throughout the trial and in the entire process that leads to that trial.
- If you do not have the money or the means to hire a Lawyer, you can ask the court to appoint one at no cost.
- He is considered innocent of the charges against him, and that presumption of innocence will last the entire trial until the prosecutor presents evidence proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- At the trial you have the right to confront the witnesses called to testify against you and to cross-examine them.
- You have the right to present evidence in your defense and to require the presence of witnesses through subpoenas issued by the clerk of the court.
- You have the right to remain silent during the trial or to testify in self-defense. If you choose to remain silent, that silence can not be used against you.
- Once the trial is over, you have the right to appeal to a higher court to review the lower court’s judgment.
Is the right to remain silent the same as requesting a Lawyer?
No. The Miranda rights of a suspect include the right to remain silent and the right to a Lawyer. However, they are two separate rights and you must invoke both for the two to be effective. If you tell the police that you do not want to talk, you should stop questioning them. But if you only tell the police that you do not want to speak, you will not be required to provide a Lawyer or guarantee that you will get a Lawyer on your own.
If he tells the police that he wants a Lawyer, the police should stop questioning him until there is a Lawyer present. Do not ask the police if they think you need a Lawyer. The police have no obligation to tell you, and the mere fact of asking them if they think they need a Lawyer does not invoke their right to have one; therefore, the police may continue to interrogate him. To ensure that all your rights are protected, invoke your right to a Lawyer explicitly.
What happens in a reading of charges?
You have the right to have the charges read to you without unnecessary delay (usually within a few judicial business days) after you have been arrested. You will appear before a judge who will officially tell you what charges you are accused of in the first reading of charges. When reading charges, you may be assigned a Lawyer if you can not afford one, and the bond may be raised or lowered. You can also request to be released on your own, even if bail has been previously established.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you can plead guilty or innocent when reading charges. Or, if the court approves it, you can make a nolo contendere statement, which means that you will not dispute the charges. Legally, it is the same as a guilty plea, but can not be used against you in a non-criminal case.
Before pleading guilty to some violations for the first time, such as possession of drugs in small amounts for personal use, it is advisable to find out if your county has a recovery program for drug addicts. Through these programs, instead of fining you or sending you to jail, the court can order you to receive therapy, which can result in the dismissal of charges if you complete the program.
If the misdemeanor charges are not dismissed, then a trial will be held in county courts. However, if you are charged with a felony and the charges are not dismissed, the next step is a preliminary hearing.
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