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The rights of criminal defendants in California are also included in the United States Constitution and carried over into state constitutions as well. Here are some of the rights that defendants have, that protect them from wrongful outcomes.

Right to Remain Silent

            Every defendant has the right to remain silent. This is essential during the time before a criminal defense attorney is assigned or hired to represent the defendant. When arrested, the defendant should be read his or her Miranda Rights. Anything said after that, can be held as evidence for the trial.

Defendants has a right to a speedy trial although in today’s crowded courts system

When arrested, a defendant can choose to not answer any questions posed by the police or prosecutors until advised by his attorney to do so. Even then, a defendant, to avoid any potential incrimination, can remain silent if preferred.

            In August of 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a criminal justice bill that abolishes the cash bail system. The judge decides who goes home or not. The rest are jailed until the trial.

Right to Have Attorney Representation

            Every defendant has the right to receive legal representation. If the defendant can not hire an attorney, one can be appointed by the court for the defendant, particularly if the potential outcome is jail time.

Right to Adequate Representation

            Each defendant should expect to be fairly and professionally represented in an adequate manner, at the very least. This covers pre-trial consultations, representation during trials, and any plea bargains offered as an alternative to trial. The criminal defense attorney must always perform to the benefit of the defendant in all circumstances.

Right to Face His or Her Accusers

            Every defendant has a right to face his or her accusers in a court of law. The only time that a defendant may not face his accuser is in the case of child sexual assault. This is to protect the young from facing further trauma by being in the presence of his or her abuser.

Right to a Public Trial

            Defendants have a right to a public trial, including a trial by a jury of his or her peers, who are chosen from a jury pool and selected by the criminal defense attorney and prosecutor teams. A public trial ensures that the rules of law are followed and testimony is recorded to ensure that a record of the trial is in place, including evidence submitted.

Right to a Speedy Trial

            A defendant has a right to a speedy trial although, in today’s crowded court’s system, scheduling is sometimes a factor as to how speedily a trial can be arranged. This is to avoid defendants from languishing in jail for long periods of time without justice applied.

Right to Avoid Double Jeopardy            Defendants cannot be tried twice for the same offense in a criminal court. However, once a criminal trial is concluded, the defendant can face a second trial in a civil court, most likely a victim who has been emotionally damaged and seeks financial restitution.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong

Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm, the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, in June 2007. Prior to that, he was employed as the senior associate attorney for a large criminal defense firm in San Diego for nine years, eventually being placed in charge of that firm’s branch office in downtown San Diego. At one point, he was managing six attorneys at that firm, as well as several support staff and law clerks. In 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys. In 2017, he was also selected for the Super Lawyers Top 50 in San Diego list. In 2014, he was selected as a Top Attorney by Los Angeles Magazine. Additionally, Mr. Armstrong was also named as a Top Attorney by the San Diego Business Journal in 2014.

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