Most people know that when a defendant is arrested, he is supposed to be read his “Miranda rights,” but what are those rights and what do they mean? A Miranda warning has the purpose of advising a criminal defendant that they have the right to remain silent and the right to consult an attorney. These rights are based on the Fifth and Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While these rights continue throughout the criminal proceedings, once a defendant is officially charged, additional rights attach. These additional rights include the right to reasonable bail and the right to a speedy trial. If the criminal case does go to trial, the criminal defendant also has the right to confront witnesses, which allows for cross-examination of any witnesses, and the right to refuse to take the stand.
If the defendant is convicted, the defendant also has the right to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and whether convicted or not, the defendant has the right to not be tried twice for the same crime (known as “double jeopardy”). If you are charged with a crime, it is important to understand all of these rights because they can impact how the criminal process will proceed. In order to ensure that your rights are protected, be sure to contact an attorney if you are arrested or charged with a crime.