If you have been arrested for murder, it probably feels as if your entire world has fallen apart. The charge simply couldn’t be more serious—and the penalties if you are convicted are as severe as they come. Your stress levels are almost certainly through the roof, and it may seem hard to even think clearly about your situation or what you should—or even can—do next.
Here are the two things you should do right away: make sure you understand your constitutional rights (which include the right to remain silent when questioned by the police) and contact an experienced murder defense lawyer.
Your Legal Rights Under the U.S. Constitution
The Constitution of the United States offers a number of important protections for those accused of a crime—including murder. Several amendments to the Constitution are of particular importance.
The Fourth Amendment
This amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. That means that in the vast majority of cases, the government must have a warrant before it can search you or your property. The warrant will only be granted if the government can convince a judge there is probable cause to believe there may be evidence of a crime that would be discovered in the search. Any evidence found through an illegal search cannot be used against you at trial.
The Fifth Amendment
This is probably the most famous of the amendments that relate to criminal defense, though it protects you in more ways than most people realize.
- The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination. You do not have to say anything that would incriminate you in relation to the crime. That is true whether the police are questioning you or are at trial.
- The Fifth Amendment protects your right to due process, meaning you are entitled to a properly conducted criminal trial.
- The Fifth Amendment protects you against what is known as double jeopardy, meaning you cannot be retried for a crime for which you have been acquitted or if the case is dismissed (unless your misconduct led to the dismissal of the case).
The Sixth Amendment
The Sixth Amendment guarantees your right to a lawyer, a jury trial, and full disclosure of the charges you are facing as well as ensuring you have the right to a speedy trial and to confront witnesses who testify against you.
The Eighth Amendment
This amendment protects you from cruel and unusual punishment as well as from excessive bail or fines. You are protected from cruel and unusual punishment even if you are convicted of murder.
The Fourteenth Amendment
The Fourteenth Amendment enshrines the principle that all citizens deserve equal protection under the law and also makes it clear that all rights provided by the U.S. Constitution apply to state criminal proceedings.
Your Defense Attorney Will Protect Your Constitutional Rights
It is of the utmost importance that your attorney determines whether or not your constitutional rights have been violated. That means they will likely have many questions to ask you about what happened when you were arrested, whether there were any searches of you or your property conducted, and any and all interactions you had with police. Answering these questions accurately and completely is essential to developing your defense against the murder charge.
Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
The attorneys of Flaherty & Merrifield Criminal Defense are ready to defend you—and your constitutional rights—in a murder trial. We have the expertise and experience that ensures we can mount the best possible defense based on the facts of your case. Your rights under the U.S. Constitution are at the foundation of our legal system, and if those rights have been violated they can be an extremely strong foundation of your defense.
The first step toward protecting your rights is to arrange to have the right attorney by your side. We’re confident that your attorney should be from Flaherty & Merrifield Criminal Defense. If you are facing a murder charge, the time to contact us is right now.