Criminal defendants enjoy various rights and protections under the United States Constitution, meant to ensure that they are not unjustly tried and convicted by the government. Two of the most well-known and most important protections are the assumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty of a crime, and the requirement that Fort Walton Beach lawyers acting as prosecutors must prove a defendant is guilty of committing a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Another important, well-known protection is guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment: the double jeopardy clause. Under this provision of law, the government may not harass defendants by putting them on trial more than once for the same criminal offense. Exceptions do apply, however, such as the fact separate sovereigns can try defendants for the same conduct. For instance, a Fort Walton Beach lawyer serving as a federal prosecutor may try a defendant for the same criminal conduct a state court charges a defendant so long as that conduct violated federal laws at the same time it violated state laws. On the other hand, the double jeopardy clause does not prevent a defendant from being tried in both criminal court and civil court for the same alleged offense.
As Fort Walton Beach lawyers will advise their clients, criminal defendants are guaranteed other constitutional rights including: the right to remain silent, the right to confront witnesses, the right to have a public trial, the right to have a jury trial in most cases, the right to have a speedy trial, the right to be represented by an attorney–and to receive adequate representation.
The right to remain silent is certainly one of the most important of these rights. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution specifically states that a defendant cannot “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” This has typically been interpreted to mean that, should a Fort Walton Beach lawyer advise the defendant to remain silent, no one–not the prosecutor, the judge, or even the Fort Walton Beach defense lawyer–force the defendant to testify against him or herself during the courtroom proceedings. This is, however, another protection that doesn’t apply in civil court.
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