The following is taken from an interview with an Arlington criminal lawyer as he discusses constitutional issues in criminal cases. To discuss your criminal case call today and set up a free consultation.
The Constitution plays a role in every single criminal case that comes before any court in any jurisdiction nationwide, obviously including Arlington. The Constitution and particularly the Bill of Rights gives certain rights to citizens that cannot be infringed upon unless certain circumstances are met by the government. If the police have made an arrest they are depriving a citizen of their liberty and freedom even if only temporary detaining them for five minutes before releasing them on a summons. They can’t do that unless they can articulate and explain why they did so.
So, with that in mind, the Bill of Rights and particularly the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution are crucially important to any criminal case. The Fourth Amendment is the right against unreasonable search and seizures by the government. So if you’re searched and drugs are recovered, if you are searched and any evidence of a crime is recovered, the police must have some reason to be able to search you, they must be able to articulate either probable cause that you had the contraband in your possession or reasonable suspicion that you’re armed And that’s just one example, so that is a very tricky area of the law, it’s one which lawyers still sometimes get wrong but something the prosecution deals with every single day and defense attorneys deal with all the time as well.
If your car is stopped, the police must have a reason to stop your vehicle. They must be able to articulate reasonable suspicion to stop you whether it’s a traffic infraction or they believe that you’re drunk driving. That all flows from the rights granted to the citizens in the Constitution-particularly the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.
The Constitution also plays an impact in someone’s right to an attorney and their right to remain silent. These are slightly different. The right to remain silent is encompassed in the Fifth Amendment and simply says that if police are conducting what’s called a custodial interrogation of you, you’re entitled to have certain rights read to you called Miranda warnings. You’ve probably seen those given on TV shows. If you do not waive those rights, the police cannot question you. That all comes from guarantees contained in the Fifth Amendment.
The Constitution has an impact in every single criminal case . You, as a citizen, have certain rights that cannot be infringed upon unless the police can articulate certain reasons why they did. It is something that attorneys and prosecutors argue about and battle over every day in court.