If you are facing charges or being accused of committing a crime, you are considered a "defendant." In this role, you will have certain rights that will protect you throughout the various legal procedures that come with being accused or charged of a crime. Although a defendant's rights may vary depending on the state in which he/she lives, there are some general rights that will apply to all defendants in the United States.
What is the Right to Remain Silent?
According to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, any person who is being accused of committing a crime will be able to reserve the right to remain silent. In specific, this right allows the defendant to remain silent and refuse to answer questions regarding the crime until he/she has a lawyer or legal advisor present who can speak on the defendant's behalf. Moreover, the right to remain silent also prohibits any representative of the government (i.e. a police officer) to force the defendant to discuss the details of an incident or make a statement that can make the defendant appear guilty.
What is the Right of Confrontation?
An individual who has been accused of a crime can reserve the right of confrontation, which is included as part of the rights of a defendant. This right permits the defendant to address the accusations that have been placed on him/her. More specifically, the defendant can address his/her accusers and pose questions to the individuals who are acting as witnesses in court. However, the defense lawyer of the defendant will most likely handle this type of action in court to ensure that the defendant has been appropriately and accurately represented.
What is the Right to Compulsory Process?
As a defendant in the United States, you have the right to call for a compulsory process. This allows the defendant to exercise the power of the court in that he/she can request the attendance of a specific witness or witnesses. Generally, the defendant will do request for witnesses to attend the court date so that they can testify. In some cases, the witnesses refuse to appear in court, which can be countered by a subpoena. As a defendant, you have the right to compel the court to issue a subpoena or warrant so that the witness or witnesses appear in court. If the witnesses still choose to deny this request, an arrest warrant can be issued in order to force the witness to appear in court.
What is the Right to Set Bail?
If a defendant is facing a minor charge, he/she will most likely have a bail set that matches the crime in question. However, this may not always be the case for minor offenses. If a bail amount has not been set, the defendant has the right to request that a bail is set while he/she awaits the trial date. Since bail is meant to ensure that the defendant appears in court, it can work to the advantage of the defendant to have a bail amount set. This can show the court that the defendant is serious about addressing the accusations that have been placed against him/her.