|KNOW YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
The Constitutions of the United States and Massachusetts each guarantee our citizens certain basic rights, including
the right to a lawyer, the privilege against self-incrimination (i.e., the right to remain silent), the right to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizures, etc. In matters of criminal law and investigation, you must know your rights.
Right to Remain Silent: You are not required to talk to the police when questioned about a crime. Do NOT give a
statement. The Fifth Amendment and the Miranda decision of the Supreme Court generally state that the Fifth
Amendment protects the innocent person, as well as the guilty. Anything you say likely will be tape recorded or
videotaped with or without your knowledge. (Do NOT discuss facts of an alleged crime with anyone including
family members. There is no privilege to protect your statements to these persons).
Right to Counsel: The Sixth Amendment gives you the right to have counsel before giving any statements or
submitting to questioning. You NEED a lawyer BEFORE you make any statements to the police. If you cannot
afford a lawyer, the court is required to appoint an attorney.
Right to be Free From Unreasonable Searches or Seizures: Do NOT allow any search of your body, home,
garage, business, computer, car, boat or other dwelling or conveyance or property, unless an officer presents
proper credentials and a search warrant. The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and
seizures. ONLY if the police have a valid search warrant is it appropriate to give permission to search. If there is a
warrant, ask to read the papers before granting permission. Then ask the officers if you may watch as they search
and ask to call your lawyer before the search. You never know whether your spouse, children or perhaps a friend
or acquaintance (or even a stranger) may have placed or left contraband or other evidence of crime in or on your
property. NEVER allow a search without a warrant. If asked whether it will be okay to search, just say, "No."
Right to Due Process of Law: This means that you must be given the opportunity of a fair trial or to fair
procedures and that certain rights or privileges or property cannot be taken from you except under special
Right to Equal Protection Under the Law: This right is intended to give all persons, regardless of race, creed,
nationality, religion, gender, the same protections or rights. In other words, no person or class of persons shall be
denied the protections enjoyed by other persons or classes in like circumstances.
Right to a Speedy and Public Trial: The Sixth Amendment guarantees a "speedy trial" without unreasonable
delays. This does not mean that you receive an immediate trial, but factors are analyzed to determine whether the
delay is reasonable and whether there is any prejudice caused by an unreasonable delay. Your trial must be open to
the public (except in certain juvenile settings).
Right to Subpoena Witnesses: If you go to preliminary hearing or trial, you have the right to compulsory process
or to subpoena witnesses regardless of whether the witness agrees to cooperate. If you serve the witness with
process, they must attend hearings and give testimony (thus the right of confronting your accusers).
Right to a Trial by Jury: You are entitled to a jury trial, unless both you and the government agree to a trial before
the judge. If you demand a trial, a jury of six or twelve qualified persons must be empanelled to hear your case.
Right to a Unanimous Verdict: To be convicted of a crime, all jurors must find you guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt. In most cases, twelve people must agree that you are guilty of the crime charged; otherwise, you cannot be
found guilty. (If the jury reaches an impasse, the jury may be hung or split. Under these circumstances, you can be
Right to be Free from Subsequent Trials (Double Jeopardy): The Fifth Amendment states that no person be put
in jeopardy twice for the same offense. If the jury unanimously agrees that you are not guilty, then you cannot be
tried again for that crime.
Right to Appeal: You have an appeal of right if you are convicted at trial. If you enter into a plea bargain or if you
simply plead guilty, you may or may not waive certain rights to appeal.
Copyright (c) 2006 Bogle & Chang, LLC. All rights reserved.
The information contained in this document is general in nature and subject to change at any point in time. As such, it may not necessarily
apply to all situations. Therefore, under no circumstance it should be construed as legal advice. Please ensure that you consult with an
attorney regarding your specific situation before starting a legal process.