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Castle Rock Criminal Defense Attorneys

Constitutional Rights

The United States Constitution gives us all important rights that protect us from the power of the government. The State of Colorado has its own constitution, which also provides us with these protections. States like Colorado can never give you fewer rights that the federal version of the constitution provides for. Therefore, the federal constitution provides you with the important guarantees that play a role when you are charged with a crime. The U.S. Supreme Court, in case after case over many years, has decided how these Constitutional Rights should be applied in criminal cases. Your Douglas County criminal defense lawyer must know these rights and how to use them. In order to do that, your attorney must know how these cases have interpreted the Constitution, and how those interpretations relate to the evidence in your particular case.

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads “The People shall be free from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures.” The authors of the Constitution intended to protect the citizens of our nation from the government becoming too powerful and too over-bearing. It is meant to guard against the excessive use of governmental authority, such as by police, detectives, or the district attorney.

Is it reasonable for a police officer to come up to you and tell you to show him what you have in your backpack?

Through the hundreds of years since the Constitution was written, what “Unreasonable Searches and Seizures” means has been shaped one law case at a time. Each time the Supreme Court hears a new case, they make a decision that shapes the law in our country. Each case usually only shapes one small part of a much bigger landscape of law. In our example above, a case long ago decided that the police must have “reasonable suspicion” to make you stop and talk to them. In order to search your backpack, they must have “probable cause” to believe that there is evidence of a crime in the backpack. If the police take your backpack and search inside of it without probable cause, it is considered to be an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment, and your Douglas County defense lawyer may get a judge to suppress any evidence that the police may have found in your backpack.

Suppressing Evidence

A judge will “suppress” evidence that is obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. This means that the prosecutor will not be allowed to use that evidence in any trial against you. This creates a disincentive for the police to break the rules in the first place. Because they know that breaking the rules will result in the evidence being unusable, they are less likely to violate the rights of ordinary citizens, or the rights of people they believe are guilty of a crime. This is what allows us all to live in a free country. When people complain that a bad guy was set free because of a technicality, they most often don’t realize just how important those “technicalities” are to our freedom.

The Rights You Need to Know

A qualified criminal defense lawyer is going to know your constitutional rights inside and out. You may not know all of them, and you may have to make decisions about what to say or do before you are in contact with an attorney and can receive proper advice. Here are the important basic rights for you to know immediately if you are being confronted by police or detectives:

Your three most important rights are:

  1. The Right to Remain Silent
  2. The Right to an Attorney
  3. The Right to NOT Consent to Search

The Right to Remain Silent

Your right to remain silent is absolute. If you say nothing to the police, a prosecutor would never be able to tell a jury that you did not speak. It is natural for you to think that not speaking makes you look guilty. Don’t worry about that. Just remain silent.

The Right to an Attorney

Your right to have an attorney is a very powerful right. If you tell the police that you intend on not talking with them, they may continue to ask you questions. If you ask for an attorney, the police are not allowed to ask you any more questions.

Don’t Consent to Search

If you consent to the search of your home, your car, or your person, you are waiving your constitutional protections. Never consent to search.