You Have Important Rights In The Criminal Justice System


The criminal justice system grants important rights to those charged with a criminal offense. From the initial investigation and arrest through trial and sentencing, the government must uphold the basic rights of defendants. If Pennsylvania law enforcement officers or government officials violated your rights at any stage of the process, the lawyers at the Bellwoar Kelly, LLP can help you seek justice.

The Right To Remain Silent

You have the right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment protects your right not to make any self-incriminating statements. This also means the government cannot force you to testify. If arrested, make sure to exercise your right to remain silent and say nothing without an attorney present.

The Right To Legal Counsel

You have the right to legal representation in all criminal prosecutions. If you cannot afford an attorney, the government must provide a court-appointed attorney.

Your Trial Rights

The Sixth Amendment is the foundation for the many trial rights of criminal defendants. For example:

  • You have the right to a public trial (except in certain cases involving children).
  • You have the right to a jury trial (except in cases of petty offenses or when forfeited) by an impartial jury of peers.
  • You have the right to a speedy trial, meaning the government must try you for your alleged offense within a reasonable amount of time after your arrest.
  • You have the right to testify and the right to refuse to testify.
  • You have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecution has the burden of proving charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • You have the right to appeal a conviction by a judge or jury.

Other procedural rights apply at various stages of the process. For example, the prosecution cannot withhold evidence that would work in your favor, no matter when that evidence comes to light.

Search And Seizure Rights

The Fourth Amendment protects your personal privacy rights. You have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of your home, person and property. Law enforcement must have sufficient grounds to conduct a search or seizure. Evidence obtained during an illegal search or seizure cannot be used against you at a trial.

Wondering If Your Rights Were Violated?

If your criminal rights may have been violated during an arrest or other stage of the criminal justice process, let our attorneys help you seek justice. We offer free consultations at our Pottstown and West Chester offices. Please call 484-402-4500 or 610-314-7066 to learn more.