Among other things, the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights provides several protections for those who are facing a criminal arrest or trial. However, in the heat of the moment, it may be hard to know whether your rights are being honored and to ensure that you are taking full advantage of them. Taking the time to learn about your constitutional rights and how to assert them can often help you avoid an arrest or conviction in the event that you have a run-in with law enforcement.
Fourth Amendment Protections from Unreasonable Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment protects your person, house, papers, and effects from search and seizure without a warrant or probable cause, and it also states that a warrant must be specific with regard to the property to be searched and the potential items to be seized. There are a few circumstances in which law enforcement is permitted to perform a search without a warrant in Wisconsin, but if an officer attempts to search you or your property, you should always ask to see a warrant first, and you should clearly state that you do not consent to a search without a warrant. If an officer proceeds without a warrant, with an invalid warrant, or in a way that exceeds the scope of the warrant, your attorney can help you challenge the validity of the evidence obtained.
Fifth Amendment Protections from Self-Incrimination
The Fifth Amendment states that you cannot be compelled to be a witness against yourself. This protection applies not only in court, but in any interactions with law enforcement before or after an arrest. If you are being questioned by an officer, you have the right to assert that you prefer not to answer before speaking with your attorney. If you are placed under arrest, and an officer intends to question you, he or she is required to notify you of your Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent. That said, it is often best to decline to answer questions even before your arrest, as your voluntary statements or responses could potentially be used against you in a trial.
Sixth Amendment Right to an Attorney
The Sixth Amendment guarantees “the assistance of counsel for [your] defense,” meaning that you have the right to an attorney throughout criminal proceedings. If you cannot afford an attorney, a public defender will be appointed to act on your behalf, but you have the right to choose your own attorney if you have the means. You can speak to your attorney privately and request his or her presence during questioning, and your attorney will also be your representative in court to present your case and help you protect your rights.
Contact a Milwaukee Criminal Law Attorney
At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, we will do everything in our power to defend your constitutional rights, including but not limited to those described above. When those rights have been violated, we strive to ensure that the results will not be used against you to support a criminal conviction. To consult with an experienced Milwaukee, WI criminal defense lawyer, contact us today at 414-271-1440.