Sometimes there are affirmative defenses available for crimes, but quite often, you need to look closely at the police investigation and circumstances surrounding an arrest to build a strong defense. The police are required to safeguard a suspect’s constitutional rights when investigating him. If the police fail to do so, it may be possible to suppress any evidence obtained in violation of constitutional standards. It is crucial to understand your constitutional defenses if you’ve been accused of a crime. James E. Novak is a Phoenix criminal defense attorney who uses his insights as a former prosecutor to provide representation to the accused.Constitutional Defenses
Many people are not as familiar with their constitutional rights as they should be. Due to police shows on television most people are aware they have Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent. In most cases it is wise to use this right. Other constitutional rights include the right to be represented by an attorney, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to testify in your own defense, the right to a speedy trial, the right to question or cross-examine witnesses testifying against you, the rise to use subpoena powers to require witnesses to testify in court, the right to a jury trial before an impartial jury, and the right to produce evidence in your defense.Fourth Amendment
Often, criminal defense matters implicate the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment protects your personal privacy and your right to be free from the government’s unreasonable intrusion in your car, business, home, or person. There are certain safeguards put in place by the courts to make sure police only interfere with your Fourth Amendment rights under restricted circumstances. This right might come into play if you’re pulled over for a DUI, stopped on the street on suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, or in a police search of any place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as your home, hotel room, or place of business.
The degree to which you’re protected in connection with a search and seizure depends on the circumstances. In most cases, the police cannot search or seize a person or his property unless they have a valid search warrant, a valid arrest warrant, or probable cause to search. If the police have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing they are entitled to stop you, whether you’re in your car or on the street. However, in order to arrest you, the police need to have probable cause to believe that criminal wrongdoing has occurred or will occur. Similarly, police must obtain a warrant, which they can only obtain by showing probable cause, before going into your home or business to search for evidence of a crime.
If the police violate your Fourth Amendment right and a search or seizure is found to have been illegal, the evidence derived from the search or seizure can be suppressed. For example, if the police search your home without a valid warrant or probable cause and find drugs, it is likely that search would be found illegal, and the evidence of drugs could be suppressed.
However, there are situations that are trickier. For example, the issues would be more nuanced if you were pulled over on a suspected DUI, but the officer prolonged the traffic stop and found evidence of a crime during that period of prolonged detainment. A stop can become illegal when it’s delayed beyond the time needed to complete the initial purpose of the stop in the absence of reasonable suspicion. For example, if the officer detains you beyond what’s necessary for the initial DUI stop solely to allow a K-9 to go around the vehicle in a drug check, but there’s no reasonable suspicion that a drug crime has been committed, it may be possible to get the evidence suppressed.Fifth Amendment
After an arrest, the police are supposed to inform or warn you about your right to remain silent and your right to a defense attorney. Under the Fifth Amendment, you are entitled not to incriminate yourself. Before interrogating you after an arrest, law enforcement officers should read you your Miranda rights. You can verbally or in writing let the police know you want to invoke those rights. You might assume that if you explain what happened in your case, the police will understand and release you. This is not the case. The police are not on your side during an investigation; their goal is to gather evidence that the prosecutor can use against you in a criminal trial. You may believe you’re saying is helpful to your case, but it may be used in a harmful way.Hire a Skillful Criminal Defense Attorney in Phoenix
If you’re concerned about your potential constitutional defenses after being arrested for a crime, you can discuss your situation with a skillful criminal defense lawyer. Mr. Novak defends those charged with crimes throughout the Phoenix area, including in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and throughout Maricopa County. Contact Mr. Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.