“We the People… in order to form a more perfect union…” Today, most of us know that these are the first words of the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution established America’s government and laws, and it outlined certain basic rights for our country’s citizens.
Before the U.S. Constitution when the states operated independently, the goal was to bring together the states and ensure certain alienable rights of the people – not allowing the government to become too powerful. It was signed on September 17, 1787 and was amended in the year of 1789. The first 10 amendments are the Bill of Rights.
The 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution includes several provisions protecting those being charged with a crime.
It states: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; and to be confronted with the witnesses against him; and to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Take a look at each one of these rights:
#1: The right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State; this part of the amendment means that the defendant must be brought to trial for his/her alleged crime within a reasonable short time after the arrest has been made. The defendant, too, has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers. This gives the person on trial a chance to stand before an impartial jury that is a representation of his/her community and declare his/her innocence.
#2: To Be Confronted with the Witnesses against Him – This part of the amendment gives the accused the right to confront the witness who is testifying against him or her. Not a physical confrontation, but it does allow his or her defense attorney to cross-examine the witness. This section of the Constitution ties closely with the idea of “innocent until proven guilty”. If it is found that the witness’s accusations are false, then he or she will then be charged with perjury – and could face up to 5 years in prison/fines.
#3: To Have the Assistance of Counsel for his Defense – We have all heard the line in the Miranda Rights that states “if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.” This isn’t something that is offered by the state because they are being nice, it is a person’s right to have a knowledgeable attorney defend them in a court of law.
#4: Having an Attorney – If you are given a court appointed attorney, be sure to tell him or her all points of your case, and make sure they understand what happened and what you want/expect from them. If you can afford a Florida criminal defense attorney, it is important to find one that has a proven track record of negotiations as well as court wins.
At the Law Office of Travis Koon, we will take the time to thoroughly discuss your case and the best way to approach your defense. We are defense attorneys in Lake City, FL with offices located in Lake City, Gainesville, and Miami. Call us regarding your case, and we will work diligently to defend you!