Criminal defense laws provide those who have been charged with a crime a means of legal protection in order to ensure that they receive fair treatment. The fair treatment of the accused in the justice system is largely dependent on the following amendments and rights as well as the skill of their lawyer to employ them as a means of protection.
Some of the most common criminal defense laws include:
1. The Fifth Amendment
The Fifth Amendment is probably one of the most commonly used and important defense that an accused can use as a means of protection. It provides the accused with the right to remain silent in order to prevent them from saying anything that could incriminate them. Those who have been accused of a crime should invoke the Fifth Amendment and only speak when their attorney is present and under the advice of an attorney.
2. The Fourth Amendment
The prosecution in any criminal case must provide substantial evidence to the court in order to convince a judge and jury of the guilt of the accused. The Fourth Amendment governs the rules and procedures that must be followed by the police and other investigative officers in gathering evidence. Unreasonable or illegal searches without a warrant can result in evidence being suppressed so that it cannot be presented at a trial.
3. Double Jeopardy
The double jeopardy provision covered by the Fifth Amendment ensures that a person cannot be convicted of the same crime twice. This means that once a person has been convicted of the crime and a sentence has been served, they cannot be charged or convicted of the same crime a second time.
4. The Sixth Amendment
This amendment affords an accused with the right to a public trial where he can be judged by a jury of his peers. This amendment offers the legal protection of being convicted of a crime due to bias or discrimination in the justice system. In addition, it provides the accused with the right to face his or her accuser. It also makes provision for issuing of subpoenas to compel witnesses who may provide testimony in favor of the accused to appear at trial.
An accused has the right to be released from jail pending their trial. They must be afforded a speedy bail hearing where a judge will decide whether to grant bail and set the amount of bail that will need to be paid on order for the accused to be released. The accused is required to make an appearance in court for all their court dates and the trial once they have been released on bail. If they fail to do so, the bail amount will become forfeit.
6. Plea Bargain
A plea bargain involves entering a guilty plea in order to receive a reduced sentence from the prosecutor.
7. Burden Of Proof
The foundation of the criminal justice system lies in the precept that an accused is innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is therefore on the prosecutor. However, having a good lawyer to present a solid defense in court is essential to proving innocence.