Posted on March 23, 2023 in Criminal Defense
If you get arrested in Maricopa County, it is up to you to protect your rights. The goal of law enforcement is to charge you with – and eventually have you convicted of – a crime. You cannot and should not trust them to protect you or preserve your constitutional rights. The best way to proceed is to know your rights before you get charged or arrested. You have several important rights under the U.S. Constitution, as well as Arizona state and federal laws.
The Bill of Rights is a crucial document for the protection of citizens from law enforcement abusing its power. It ensures the basic rights of every citizen to be treated fairly if suspected or arrested for an alleged crime. The criminal amendments in the Bill of Rights begin with the Fourth: the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
The Fourth Amendment holds that each man’s home is his castle, in which he is protected from invasions of privacy. This includes invasions by law enforcement officers. The police cannot search your vehicle, home or person – or seize anything therein – without reasonable cause or a warrant to do so.
If you do not give your permission to the search, the police cannot violate your privacy by conducting a search or seizing items. Should the police seize anything without probable cause or a warrant, this violation of your constitutional rights could rule the evidence collected inadmissible (unable to be used) in court.
The Fifth Amendment states that no person shall be held to answer for a crime. An individual cannot be compelled by the government to say something self-incriminating. It is also known as the “right to remain silent.” If you “take the Fifth” or “plead the Fifth” during your arrest, you legally do not have to answer any police questions or provide information about the alleged offense committed. The only question you are legally obligated to answer is if you are asked for your name.
If you get arrested in Maricopa County, the police must read you your Miranda rights, otherwise known as the Miranda warning. These rights stem from the Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436. This case created a constitutional requirement that police must give certain warnings to a detainee at the time of arrest. The police must inform you of your right to remain silent and warn that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Use your right to remain silent and do not answer police questions during an arrest.
Another part of your Miranda rights is the right to an attorney. If you do not have the means to pay for an attorney, a public defender will be appointed to you at a reduced cost or no cost, depending on your financial situation. You should always use your right to an attorney if you get arrested.
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can drastically change your legal experience. Your lawyer can accompany you to police interrogations and inform you of what you should and should not say to law enforcement. An attorney can help you protect your legal rights during an arrest and throughout the entire criminal justice process.
The Fifth Amendment also gives you the right to be given due process of law. This means you shall not be prosecuted or penalized for an alleged offense without going through the necessary steps and procedures of the country’s criminal justice system. Every person is innocent until proven guilty under the U.S. Constitution. You are guaranteed the right to an actual criminal procedure, where you have the chance to be heard and defend yourself from the charge(s) brought against you.
The Sixth Amendment and Seventh Amendment give you the right to a speedy and public trial, as well as a trial that is judged by a jury of your peers. The right to a trial by an impartial jury is typically upheld by choosing jurors from a cross-section of the community where the trial will be held. Your criminal defense lawyer as well as the prosecutor will have the chance to approve or reject jury members until a group of 12 is agreed upon.
The Constitution gives you the right to plead “not guilty” to any charge you are facing. You have the right to be informed of the nature of your charges. This is typically done during an arraignment hearing, which is a preliminary hearing that takes place before a criminal trial. During your arraignment, you will hear your charge(s) and be permitted to enter a plea. You can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. No contest means you accept a conviction but are not admitting guilt. Your lawyer can advise you on the best plea for your circumstances.
You must be proactive about protecting your rights from the very beginning if you get arrested in Maricopa County. Use your right to remain silent; self-incrimination is one of the most common mistakes made by detainees upon arrest. If asked, do not give your permission to the police to search your vehicle. Do not resist if you are frisked by an officer, however. If the search or seizure is illegal, your lawyer can have any items collected ruled inadmissible.
Remain polite and do not resist arrest, even if you know you are innocent. You will have the chance to state your case and argue against any charges brought against you later. Resisting arrest at the scene could result in further charges being brought against you or even being physically injured by the police. Protect yourself by cooperating with the arrest and listening carefully to your Miranda rights when they are read to you.
Contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you get arrested in Arizona. Call AZ Defenders at (480) 456-6400 24/7 to speak to an attorney and receive legal advice. We can accompany you to police interrogations to protect you against infringements of your rights. We can also represent you during preliminary hearings, negotiations and/or a criminal trial in Maricopa County. Contact us today for more information about your legal rights after an arrest.