Rights of a Defendant During Trial

If you are being investigated for a crime, or if you have been charged by complaint, information or indictment with a crime, you have rights.  This is a brief explanation of some of those rights.

1. The right to remain silent.  This is arguably one of the most important rights you have. It prevents the state from forcing you to be a witness against yourself. Although you may be aware of this right, many of my clients believe, incorrectly, that if you were not read your rights (Miranda Rights which include the right to remain silent), then you can have your case dismissed.  In truth, the right to remain silent only means that the police cannot use statements that you made IN RESPONSE TO THEIR QUESTIONS and WHILE IN THEIR CUSTODY against you in trial.  It does not mean that the case is automatically dismissed. It is not a defense to the charges against you.  This right does not protect you from statements that you make without any prompting from the police. Therefore, if you are in the back of the squad car and decide to tell the police that “I am too drunk to be driving”, they will be able to use that against you because you are not responding to their questions. Additionally, if they have pulled you over and are asking questions, but you are not in custody or under arrest, they do not need to read you your rights and anything you say can be used against you.  Long story short, the police will use whatever you say against you, and it is best to refuse to answer any questions unless your lawyer is present.  You must specifically assert this right.

You also have the right to have a lawyer present for any questioning, but you must specifically ask for a lawyer to be present.  You have the right to terminate the questioning at any time, even if you already started talking.

2.  Trial by Jury.  If the State cannot convince all 6 jurors in a misdemeanor trial or all 12 jurors in a felony trial, they cannot convict you of a crime.  Trial can be risky, and there may be other options to dismiss your case, so please call me to see if trial is your best option, or if there are other, more certain options to get your case dismissed or reduced. You have the right to make the State prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt by legal and competent evidence. I will hold them to that burden.

3. The right to an attorney.  Whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony, defendants have the right to have a lawyer to defend their rights and to inform them of their options. Trial can be risky, and there may be other options to dismiss your case, so please call me to see if trial is your best option, or if there are other, more certain options to get your case dismissed or reduced.

4. Right to cross examine witnesses.  You have the right to face your accusers and to cross examine those witnesses in court. You have the right to make the State prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt by legal and competent evidence. I will hold them to that burden.

5. Presumption of innocence. You are presumed innocent UNLESS (not until) the State provides proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but not beyond all doubt, or a shadow of a doubt.  This presumption protects you from the trial start to finish.  You need not ask a question or make a single objection. This right applies to every presumption at trial.  I make sure that the jury understands this right and what it means.  In short, if any issue could either make you look innocent or guilty, the jury must also follow the path that would make you look innocent.  The jury cannot help the state and fill in the blanks in their case.  You remain innocent unless they can produce so much proof, that they essentially have not reasonable doubt as to your guilt.

It is the job of the defense lawyers to make sure that these rights are not and have not been violated. Without the guidance of a Tarrant County Criminal Defense lawyer, defendants who are not guilty of the crime they are accused of face the possibility of conviction.  Make an appointment to see me so I can show you what I can do.

If you are a defendant in need of a criminal defense lawyer in Forth Worth or Tarrant County, call the Law Office of Paul Previte at 817-335-HELP (4357) office or 817-713-7337 for a Free consultation even on weekends or at night.