Protecting Your Constitutional Rights

If you are facing criminal charges, whether at the state level or federal level, it's important to know that the Constitution specifies a number of rights provided to defendants in criminal proceedings to ensure that legal actions are fair. These rights include:

  • The right to remain silent means that no one can force a defendant to speak or testify if the defendant reasonably believes that his/her testimony will contribute to his/her conviction for a crime.
  • Search warrants forbid the search or seizure of private property unless the proper authorities have obtained a warrant through "probable cause," unless one of the well-defined exceptions is present.
  • Writ of habeas corpus maintains that detained individuals have the right to know why they are being held if the detention lasts more that a short time.
  • No excessive, cruel or unusual fines or punishment prevents excessive bail, fines or "cruel and unusual" punishments to be imposed on defendants.
  • The right to have a public trial is a privilege that should not be minimized. It ensures the public's access to court proceedings and may help ensure that the defendant's rights are observed and upheld.
  • The right to a jury trial applies to sentences that carry prison terms of six months or more and helps to ensure a fair trial by allowing a group of impartial jurors to decide on the legitimacy of the charges and the outcome of the case.
  • The right to confront witnesses allows witnesses to be cross-examined by the defendant or defendant's counsel, thereby offering the defendant the opportunity to obtain potentially beneficial information or to reveal any discrepancies in the testimony (special rules apply for child sexual assault cases).
  • The right to not be tried twice for the same offense (commonly known as double jeopardy) protects defendants from being put on trial more than once for the same crime, unless the charge is filed under different authorities, such as state and federal courts.

In addition, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees anyone facing criminal charges the right to the assistance of effective counsel. Reasons why it may be necessary to retain a criminal attorney include:

  • Legal defense involves complex procedures and guidelines that are difficult for those not experienced or educated in the law to navigate.
  • Sometimes mistakes are made during investigations and innocent people are accused.
  • Incorrect conclusions may lead to assumptions of evidence of guilt and the accused may not only be charged, but unfairly targeted.
  • Prosecutors might overestimate" crimes and mistakenly charge individuals based on erroneous facts, such as incorrectly calculating drug quantities or economic fraud loss and damage amounts.

Consulting With A Lawyer About Your Rights

If you are facing criminal charges or are under investigation for violation of a local, state or federal criminal law, the decision of who will represent you is a critical one. You will need a skilled individual who will stand by you at trial, prepared to fight for you.

Attorney Norman D. McKellar of McKellar & Easter, Attorneys at Law, is such an attorney. He represents the accused nationwide and is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a firm believer in protecting what's most important and is not afraid to take an aggressive approach during litigation to do just that.

Make An Appointment With Our Firm

To schedule a free initial telephone consultation with one of our experienced defense attorneys, contact our law offices in Knoxville, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; or Atlanta, Georgia, by calling 865-566-0125 or filling out this contact form. We accept credit cards.