A defendant is a person who has been arrested or charged with a crime. However, the person is not convicted of the crime until their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt (or they agree to plead guilty). The timeline and events in a defendant’s case depend on the type of charges they face, the jurisdiction, and other factors.

What Rights Do Defendants Have in the United States?

What Rights Do Defendants Have in the United States?

The United States Constitution, the Constitution of Pennsylvania, and criminal statutes give defendants specific rights. These rights are intended to protect the fairness and impartiality of our justice system. Federal rights for defendants typically prevail over contradictory state laws.

Some rights defendants have include, but are not limited to:

  • The right not to incriminate themselves.
  • The right to a speedy trial.
  • Protection from illegal searches and seizures.
  • The right to remain silent. 
  • The right to a public trial.
  • Protection from being tried twice for the same offense (i.e., double jeopardy).
  • The right to counsel from an attorney.
  • The right to effective assistance from a lawyer.
  • The ability to confront a hostile witness.
  • The right to hear the charges filed against them.
  • The right to an acquittal of charges in the absence of a guilty plea or a guilty verdict based on evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Unfortunately, prosecutorial and police misconduct occurs on a routine basis. Law enforcement officers, district attorneys, and prosecutors can cross the line. They sometimes fabricate evidence, withhold exculpatory evidence, or cover up conduct that could lead to an acquittal or dismissal of criminal charges.

Therefore, having experienced legal advice from a West Chester criminal defense lawyer is crucial. A lawyer understands your civil rights. They know when your rights are violated and how to use that information in your defense. 

Common Defenses Used by Defendants in Pennsylvania

The defense strategy your lawyer chooses depends on many factors. Factors include, but are not limited to, your criminal history, the criminal offenses charged against you, mitigating factors, and aggravating factors. Whether you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense also impacts the defense strategy, as does the evidence in the case. 

Potential defenses to crimes include:

  • The police officers lacked probable cause to detain someone, make an arrest, or conduct a search (i.e., wrongful arrest).
  • The defendant had an alibi at the time of the alleged criminal offense. 
  • Police officers coerced a confession from the defendant.
  • The defendant is the victim of police entrapment. The defendant was not inclined to commit the crime, but was convinced to do so by a law enforcement officer. 
  • You are the victim of mistaken identity. The witness or police officers made a mistake identifying you as the person who committed the crime.
  • The statute of limitations has expired for the criminal charges. 
  • The accusations against you are false.
  • Police officers failed to inform you of your legal rights, including reading the Miranda Warning. 
  • You were defending yourself or another person (i.e., self-defense).
  • You did not mean to hurt someone or commit a crime. It was an accident.
  • The victim gave their consent to what would have otherwise been a crime had you not had consent.
  • You were coerced, threatened, or otherwise forced to commit a crime.
  • You were unaware that the items you took were not yours to take.

There are many other defenses to criminal charges available. It depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. 

An experienced West Chester criminal defense lawyer investigates the criminal charges against you to gather evidence to use in your defense. Your attorney also carefully analyzes the state’s evidence against you and how that evidence impacts a defense strategy. 

What Should I Do if I Am Arrested in West Chester?

It might be difficult or nearly impossible, but try not to panic if the police arrest you. Remember that you have the right to remain silent, except for providing your name and address. 

The police try to get you to talk or “tell your side of the story.” Do not give in to the urge to talk to the police. Remaining silent is in your best interest.

You need a criminal defense attorney, even if you are innocent. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. 

While waiting for the appointment, do not discuss your criminal case with anyone else. Do not post information online or use social media. 

You must stay away from the alleged victim. It is also crucial to follow all terms and conditions of your release. If you violate bond or home detention, you return to jail until your trial. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

Our West Chester criminal defense attorney from DiCindio Law, LLC is a former prosecutor. As a result, he understands the criminal justice system and the law from both sides. That experience gives him unique expertise that he uses to defend our clients. Contact or call now for a free consultation at (610) 430-3535.