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Published: 2008-03-26

Your Constitutional Rights as a Criminal Defendant: What You Need to Know

You have numerous rights under the Federal and Missouri State Constitutions. It is important to have a basic understanding of these rights so you can exercise them if needed. It is always recommended that a person charged with or accused of the commission of a crime contact an attorney that practices in the area of criminal defense to protect all of his or her constitutional rights including, the following:

  1. The right under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be free from any unreasonable search and seizure,

  2. The right under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to remain silent,

  3. The right to a trial either before a judge or a jury,

  4. The right to summon witnesses and compel their attendance to testify on behalf of the defendant,

  5. The right to confront and cross-examine any witness the State may call,

  6. The right to a speedy trial,

  7. The right to be presumed innocent unless and until the State has proven each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt,

  8. The right to be represented by an attorney,

  9. The right to a Court appointed attorney if the defendant establishes they are unable to employ an attorney because of their indigence,

  10. The right to consult with an attorney, family members and friends before entering any pleas of guilty or not guilty before the Court.
If charged with or accused of the commission of a crime, protect your rights by contacting an attorney that practices in the area of criminal defense.

*Mr. Parker is the former prosecuting attorney of Dent County, Missouri and currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Criminal Law Committee in the Missouri House of Representatives. He is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.