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U.S. Constitutional RIGHTS of the Accused

Updated on July 1, 2017
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The average American, law-abiding citizen, may doubt there is much reason to be fully aware of their rights, should they ever be accused of and arrested for a crime. Understandable but not sensible or beneficial. Our Constitutional rights, all of them, should and must be so valuable and treasured by each of us, as to warrant serious study. Understand that the vast majority of us only think we understand our rights. The reality is, most of us seriously need some in-depth research into what may one day save us or a family member, a whole lot of legal grief.

"It's absolutely crazy to ever think I would be accused of a crime, not to mention, be arrested!!" Quite possibly true, my friend, but not a valid reason to remain ignorant of our inalienable rights. There should never come a time in our life we are denied any right we are entitled to, due to ignorance of the facts. This is tantamount to relinquishing our United States of America citizenship.

Every day in this country, people are charged with committing or of being involved in a crime. From the moment this occurs and the handcuffs are placed around your wrists, every single move you make and each word you utter, "can and will be held against you in a court of law."

If you cannot fully appreciate the impact of that statement made by thousands of arresting officers across our country each and every day during tens of thousands of arrests, please continue reading.

Whether guilty or totally innocent, it should be clear to you how vital it is to know your rights under these circumstances.

Your Right to Due Process of Law

The courts, both State and Federal have interpreted the Fifth Amendment guarantee that you shall not "be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." This is in combination with the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection, to give every American citizen a clear-cut and powerful group of rights, should he be accused of a crime.

If placed under arrest, law enforcement must clearly verbalize your Miranda Rights (a.k.a The Miranda Warning) and be certain that it is fully understood by you. (Note: It is not mandated that one must be Mirandized at the actual moment of arrest, however, before any questioning/interrogations, The Miranda Warning MUST be given.)

Ernesto Miranda
Ernesto Miranda

History of The Miranda Warning

Miranda v Arizona/1963

In 1963, a young man from Arizona, Ernesto Miranda, was accused of kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old, mildly retarded woman. During questioning by police, Ernesto confessed to the crime. He was given no information of rights of any kind. He was not aware that he did not have to speak nor that he could have a lawyer present. At trial, his lawyer attempted to have the confession thrown out, but his motion was denied. In 1966 the case went before the Supreme Court, which ruled that the statements made to police could not be used as evidence, since Miranda had not been advised of his rights. Ultimately, Miranda's conviction was thrown out, but he did not become a free man. The police had other evidence aside from the confession. Miranda was tried a second time and convicted again. After his eventual release from prison, Miranda was killed in a barroom brawl in 1976.

The Miranda Warning was created, documented and enacted so that never again would a criminal suspect, arrested by the police, be questioned without being fully advised of his rights, prior to questioning.

The actual Miranda Warning is as follows:

You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions. Anything you do say, may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult an Attorney before speaking to the police and to have an Attorney present during questioning, now or in the future. If you cannot afford an Attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without an Attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you speak to an Attorney. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you? (a response is needed from the arrested individual) Knowing and understanding your rights, are you willing to answer my questions without an Attorney present? Pay attention! Repeat, "are you willing to answer my questions without an Attorney present?"

We are all quite aware that any and all defense attorneys will tell you firmly and without hesitation, the answer to that last question is a loud and clear,
"No !" Defense attorneys across our nation would love nothing better than for every man, woman and child to memorize and etch into their brain, the vital need for silence until and unless you have counsel.

In addition, if you are ever arrested:

As stated, law enforcement must inform you of your rights as well as give you the opportunity to phone a relative, friend or Attorney. Sound advice here once again. Forget the relative and the friend and opt for the attorney.

You have the right to a lawyer's service's and need not speak a word to anyone prior to consulting with that Attorney. If you cannot afford an Attorney, one will be appointed for you.

You have the right to know the charges against you. Yes, you do! Read that statement again if you must. Let it sink in. Television programs would have us thinking that the police may hold you while simultaneously withholding the reason you are being detained. This is not true.

You have the right to a reasonably prompt hearing before a magistrate. If you are held for trial, you have the right to have reasonable bail set as security for your release, (except for particular crimes or at the discretion of the court.)

You have the right to a reasonably prompt jury trial, the right to confront and cross-examine your accusers and to call witnesses on your own behalf.

You cannot be tried twice for the same offense (Double Jeopardy) and if convicted, you cannot be subjected to cruel or unusual punishment.

Any and all rights may be waived by you, but needless to say, only a fool would waive a right allowed him/her for their own benefit and protection.

Another clearly foolish move that is sometimes requested by the accused is to represent himself in court, a.k.a. a pro se defense. Although the right to defend one's self does exist, all efforts are made by the Judge and defense Attorneys to dissuade an individual from seeking to insist upon this right. Our Justice System, however being far superior in every way from any other in the world, is also extremely complex & powerful yet delicate. Nothing can replace and/or substitute for a good, licensed Attorney with the knowledge and expertise needed to defend someone, most especially in criminal cases. Many a defendant has tried a pro se defense and has failed miserably.

Police Officers, Attorneys, Judges, our peers who make up a Jury, witnesses and various professionals who work within the court system are.....Human Beings. Human beings are capable of all things, good and bad, right and wrong. On the negative side, all humans are capable of lies, manipulation, withholding information, mistakes, crooked politics and false memories and statements. This is simply a fact of reality.

This fact as well as numerous others are more than enough reason to encourage each and every American to learn and understand their rights.



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  • fpherj48 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York your 1st paragraph...EXACTLY, which is what boils my blood. Every single truly innocent person who has been convicted of a crime and finds themselves behind bars and totally STUNNED, faces the impossible question...How the HELL did this happen?

    NUMEROUS factors have been used to find innocents, guilty. The most egregiously blatant case of this horror in my State in the past few decades, is that of MARTY TANKLEFF. Thanks for the comment, ib.

  • ib radmasters profile image

    ib radmasters 

    7 years ago from Southern California

    my opinion is that the guilty have no reason to fear the law, it is only the truly innocent that are not aware of their constitutional rights. Or they believe that because they know they are innocent they relinquish their rights.

    The problem is that it is only important what the prosecution and the judge and the jury will think is the truth.

    Circumstantial evidence has been used to find innocent people guilty.

    Remember this once, you are arrested or even accused of a crime, you will never return to an innocent status.

    You will either be found guilty or not guilty, never innocent.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    7 years ago from England

    Hi, does Double Jeopardy still work in America? its been stopped over here, just in case the first trial was wrong, or there is new evidence, I believe it came in after the Steven Lawrence case, but as you say it's a great idea to make sure you know all your rights, cheers nell

  • fpherj48 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Wes...You will get no argument from me on the "diseased" US government. Furthermore, While our justice system is not as blatantly barbaric and/or arbitrary as many countries, it is flawed beyond recognition in terms of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. My point here is to (hopefully) nudge people/open a at the very least, get a grasp of even "basic" rights, especially in situations of arrest. I encourage this due to the fact that I have witnessed individuals cause themselves further harm and difficulties, stemming from ignorance, which is often accompanied by fear....thereby, giving more power to the bully. I'm always appreciative of your visits. Thanks, Wes.

  • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

    Wesman Todd Shaw 

    7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

    I'm not sure that our government recognizes ANY rights of citizens any more - accused or not accused of anything.

    They dang sure don't honour the Constitution or Bill of Rights - the Missouri Information Analysis Center a few years ago, in fact, stated that "DOMESTIC TERRORIST" ...were often people that had "Support the Constitution" stickers on their vehicles, and then went on to urge Highway Patrol to stop and search such persons.

    To sum that up again: The US Government thinks you're a domestic terrorist if you support the US Constitution and Bill Of Rights.

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 

    7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Truly very interesting to me Effer:) I actually read a book a few years back by Caroline Kennedy and it was about your privacy rights. It was great too - and I think you did a great job! I bookmarked it - what? I could be falsely accused! LOL

  • fpherj48 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Cogerson...Absolutely (people) use rights for their own shabby reasons....but the truth is, it's the Attorneys that bend and cut and paste and wiggle every which way with the law. These are the "flaws" in our system that I often mention. Human beings are what we are and there will always be those who use, abuse and misuse rights and privileges. Astute individuals have to keep a constant watch on those "scales of Justice," because they certainly can be UNbalanced too often. Thanks for reading and commenting my friend. your visits are always welcome!

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 

    7 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Ain't that the truth Effer!! You know me too well!! LOL

  • Cogerson profile image


    7 years ago from Virginia

    Another winning hub fpherj48. I found this hub to be informative and educational...which requires the author to have some serious talent...job well done. And now let's talk about your hub. I like the fact that an accused has these many rights it is worth it even if some people use these rights to bend the rules and get away with something they should not...voted up and interesting and awesome.

  • fpherj48 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    SS625....OMG....I'm not the least bit concerned for you, GF. If the cops ever picked you up for ANY'd talk yourself out of trouble in a matter of minutes and have them buying you dinner and driving you home......and asking Dave to keep you home! LMAO

  • fpherj48 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Eddy....I HOPE I will be able to put out many more hubs. I've been trying not to spend as much time at the keyboard, but because of "HubPages Fever," (our addiction!) I haven't been very successful!! Lol...You enjoy YOUR day as well, friend.

    Dexter On a serious note...I have seen some of the serious issues individuals have caused themselves due to being "in the dark," so to speak. It's never pretty. To add a bit of humor, my husband has told me that when he would get the "phone call" from a Police station, he didn't ask, where are you? what did you do? how are you? He said simply, "DON'T SAY ANOTHER WORD UNTIL I GET THERE!" Lol.....

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 

    7 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Interesting! I didn't know that's how the Miranda Rights came about! I might find this information useful one day, you never know! Voted UP!!

  • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

    Dexter Yarbrough 

    7 years ago from United States

    Great hub, Fpherj48! It is unbelievable how many people are unaware of their rights when accused. Thanks for helping to educate more of them. Voted up, up and away!

  • Eiddwen profile image


    7 years ago from Wales

    Very intereseing indeed,voted up and here's to many more from you.

    Take care and enjoy your day.


  • ib radmasters profile image

    ib radmasters 

    7 years ago from Southern California


    Thanks for the reply, and I would agree with you that NY and the country lost a Best Attorney when he retired.

    I would like to believe that during his career many lawyers would have emulated and learned from him.

    I applaud your intent to inform the public about the law. Most of the law that this absorb by the bulk of the public, I suspect is TV Crime Show based.

    I look forward to reading more of your hubs.

    Have a Happy New Year

  • fpherj48 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    ib radmasters..Hi there and thanks for stopping by! First I obviously need to clarify something for you. My Hub is strictly a FACT-BASED article, meant to encourage people to (at the very least) KNOW what their rights are, and use them to their benefit, should the need arise. The truth is...precisely as you have shared. My husband and I would not disagree with one word you express. (btw..he was not a "good" attorney...he was the BEST...and I would be biased, of course) Since being retired, 2003, we have been very active and have worked tirelessly with our WNY chapters of anti-death penalty groups as well as Project Innocence. We are keenly aware of our seriously "flawed" Judicial system. It is far worse than most average citizens could imagine....and probably would refuse to believe if they DID know. It oftens defies REASON and flies in the face of egregious. So, in fact, my factual hub is far from the 5000-page BOOK OF FACTS that would include the A-Z of the American Justice system. I'd be run out of the country if I wrote that one! lol....your opinion matters & I'm glad you shared!

  • ib radmasters profile image

    ib radmasters 

    7 years ago from Southern California

    I am sorry but this piece is not the way it is in real life.

    First of all, you have to be naïve to believe it is a Justice System.

    Talking about a jury of ones peers is also naïve. Jurors are for the most part not the peer of the defendant. The jury system in this country is only colored as a good system. Reality gives the true color.

    Look at the jury pools and find your equivalence. It will be very hard to do so.

    When you do your Income Tax you have no 5th Amendment Rights, yet you are in jeopardy of be a criminal. You are forced into being a witness against yourself, and you are forced to sign your return under penalty of perjury. You have to report all income regardless of whether it was legal or illegal.

    As for representation, just because you have a license attorney doesn't mean that you have good representation. If you cannot afford one, then you get an assistant public defender with a huge case load. If you can afford an attorney, it doesn't mean that you can afford a good attorney.

    From my experience attorney that are in it for the justice, are far and few between.

    Remember also that once arrested you will never be found innocent, just not guilty. There is a world of difference between the two.

    Also consider that an arrest is really an Opinion that the person being arrested is a criminal.

    In criminal cases in the last few decades circumstantial evidence has been really successful in getting guilty verdicts. This weakens the rule for conviction of being beyond reasonable double. Many circumstantial evidence cases have not given any but a story about the guilt of the defendant. Sometimes they don't produce the real evidence connecting the defendant to the act. It is that the jury believes the prosecutors story over that of the defense attorney.

    In the California Murder case against Scott Peterson, the prosecution couldn't produce any crime scene, or any evidence linking Peterson to a crime scene. They could even give a time of death for the case, and many other details. Despite that the jury came in with a first degree murder conviction and they also voted for the death penalty. All that on a circumstantial case.

    Also juries are conscripted and not paid for their duty. The jury and the defendant are the only parties in the court that are not being paid for their service. They are not even paid their true expenses and lost wages. Not every employer pays for jury service.

    If your husband was a good defense attorney, then he knows first hand what I have said is true.

    my opinion.....

  • fpherj48 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Hi there, Tillie....nice of you to stop by to visit. Dear me, did I say something nice about attorneys? lol I guess you are referring to the importance of having an attorney defend you rather than going pro se? Or, did you mean that I had the NERVE to include attorneys in with HUMAN BEINGS?? Lol Now, I'm the one who has to smile because my husband is a retired attorney.....DEFENSE attorney. We have some really great court cases in our living room....I pretend to be a prosecutor. He lets me win sometimes just for the peace and quiet! hahahahah. Good to hear from you. Hope your Holidays were awesome.

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 

    7 years ago from New York

    You make some really good points and provide people with information they may not think about. Towards the end of your hub though I must admit I had to smile and think the attorneys out there are really gonna love this. Sorry, don't mean to joke about a serious matter and this is a serious matter but having worked for an attorney I know they'll take any good PR they can get. Voted up because it really is something we should think about.

  • fpherj48 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, Audrey. Most people are aware of the importance, but I wonder how many rights they actually know? Especially those who have never had any experience with the Justice System...which of course, is a GOOD thing. Peace!

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 

    7 years ago from California

    I agree that everyone should know about their rights to due process under the law--they are important rights--thank you for bringing this hub to the fore--


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