What are your rights when accused of a crime in Texas?
Some rights associated with criminal prosecution are well-known. Most people are at least passingly familiar with their Miranda Rights because of how frequently they feature in movies and television shows.
Still, many people fail to even understand the true implications of their Miranda Rights, let alone the more nuanced protections extended both under the Bill of Rights and through precedents in courts across the country. If the police have recently arrested you, what are your rights?
Your Miranda Rights and the presumption of innocence
As you likely already know, you have the right to remain silent during interactions with the police while you are under arrest. You also have the right to ask for an attorney to protect your interest during a police investigation or interrogation.
Additionally, you have a presumption of innocence working in your favor. No one should assume you are guilty of an offense or treat you like a convict until the state proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed an offense or you plead guilty.
Your right to a speedy trial and an impartial jury of your peers
The Sixth Amendment helps protect citizens accused of criminal offenses from mistreatment such as indefinite incarceration while awaiting trial. You have the right to a speedy trial, although how speedy it will be depends on the evidence that the state must analyze and the current demand for criminal court time. You will also have the right to bring your own witnesses and confront those accusing you.
One of your choices when facing a criminal charge will be to have a trial by jury or a trial by judge. In a trial by jury, the selection process should help ensure that you have appropriate peer representation to ensure impartiality.
Your right to full discovery
One of your most important rights as a criminal defendant is the right to access, review and analyze the evidence that the state wants to use against you. A prosecutor cannot show up in court and simply present new evidence without first disclosing it to your attorney.
Understanding your rights as a criminal defendant will make it much easier for you to protect yourself while navigating the criminal justice system in Texas.