The Constitution of the United States of America protects US citizens from governmental overreach. One of the ways it does this is by explicitly outlining the rights of someone accused of committing a crime. Many people may be familiar with the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly referred to as the Bill of Rights. However, you may not know that the main subject of the Bill of Rights is the rights of someone charged with a crime. That’s right – five of the ten amendments are concerned with your rights after being accused of committing a crime.
Two protections are given under the fourth amendment – a prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure and the requirement for probable cause to issue a warrant for a police search.
You may be familiar with the term “pleading the fifth.” This term refers to the right of Americans to refuse to testify against themselves in a court of law. Additionally, the amendment provides that all felonies must be tried under the indictment of a grand jury. Finally, the fifth amendment prevents the government from trying someone for the same crime twice, known as the double jeopardy clause.
This amendment establishes the right to a “speedy and public trial.” This simply means that someone accused of a crime is entitled to face their accuser in a public trial and defend their innocence.
Considered one of the most straightforward amendments. the seventh amendment guarantees the right to a trial by jury in civil cases and prevents courts from overturning findings of fact made by a jury.
The Eighth Amendment establishes a defendant’s freedom from excessive bail. Becuase the United States justice system operates on the premise that defendants are innocent until proven guilty, defendants must be granted bail or they would suffer undue punishment. Simply, if the defendant has not been convicted of a crime, they cannot be detained by the government.