5 Rights That You Have As Defendant

5 important rights as a criminal defendant

“Although we live in a country that prides itself on freedom, justice, and fairness, it is important to realize that rights are violated regularly, which is to be expected in a country as large as ours.”

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The clause “innocent until proven guilty“, which is housed in the 11th amendment, affords a defendant a plethora of constitutional rights after they have been charged with a crime, leading up to the trial, and during the trial. Making sure that you are familiar with these protections can bring peace of mind, and help set expectations throughout the process of mitigation.

Solid representation will ensure that these protections of yours are not violated, but it is always good to know your constitutional rights regardless of the status of your attorney. To help with this, we have put together a list of 5 rights that you have as a defendant when facing criminal charges.

1.) Suitable Representation

Legal representation is without a doubt important, and thankfully it is a constitutional right for Americans to have suitable legal representation during all criminal proceedings, under all circumstances.

As we have mentioned in previous blogs, this right is afforded to you even if you do not have the funds to pay for a private attorney. In that case, the state must provide you with representation if you request it, or you have the right to represent yourself you choose to do so.

For more information on public defenders and your right to be represented regardless of income, click here to read one of our previous blogs.

2.) Right to Trial by Jury

The right to a jury trial is a right that most people are familiar with, but there are a few stipulations in how this is brought to life. It is important to know that a jury trial is a trial that takes place in front of a jury comprised of your peers, and you have a right to this type of trial if charged with a felony.

Along with this, you always have a choice to be tried in front of a judge, which is referred to as a bench trial. Your right to a jury trial also extends to misdemeanor charges, but only in the case of appealing a conviction via a higher court

3.) The Right To A Public Trial

Most people are familiar with a jury trial, but the sixth amendment also extends the benefit of having a public trial if you elect to do so. The clause states that defendants in a criminal trial have the right to a public trial without unnecessary delay.

Public trials are utilized when the defendant feels that there may be some foul play from the prosecution or any other factor that may prevent a fair trial. Opening up the trial to the public eye allows anyone to attend, including the press, family, friends, and a host of legal representatives.

The open nature of this type of trial ensures fairness across the board and can prevent any foul play from taking place during court proceedings.

4.) Reasonable Bail Costs

One of the most important rights to know is your right to a reasonable bail, which is declared in the eighth amendment through a clause that states that a defendant is not to be charged with an excessive bond amount during any pending trial.

If you opt to hire a private attorney, there is a good chance that they will not be with you during the setting of bail, but you have the right to appeal the bail amount if you feel it was excessive.

5.) Double Jeopardy Protection

The fifth amendment protects you from double jeopardy, which is the process of pursuing a defendant for a crime that they have already served a sentence, or in most cases, have been tried and acquitted for. Although the chances of this right being violated are lower than the others, be sure to consult with representation if you feel that you are a victim of this violation, as they will have what it takes to ensure your constitutional rights remain respected.


Although we live in a country that prides itself on freedom, justice, and fairness, it is important to realize that rights are violated regularly, which is to be expected in a country as large as ours. If you find yourself in a position in which you are charged for a criminal offense, make sure you immediately secure representation and do your best to have an overarching understanding of your rights throughout the process.

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