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Rights of the Accused Before Trial

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Will Lorenzo

on 13 December 2010

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Transcript of Rights of the Accused Before Trial

Rights of the Accused
Before Trial The rights of the accused before trial are outlined in the Constitution and in three amendments to the Constitution In the text of the Constitution, the accused rights are outlined as follows:
The accused have the right to appear before a judge to determine whether he is being held illegally (writ of habeas corpus). The Constitution forbids a Bill of Attainder, a law declaring a person guilty without a trial. The Constitution also forbids ex post facto laws, retroactive laws that attempt to punish someone for something that was not a crime when they did it. The Fifth Amendment guarantees the accused of the following rights: An indictment by a grand jury, a jury who decides if the state has enough evidence to bring you to trial The accused cannot be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb. The accused cannot be tried twice for the same crime (same action). The accused have the right of no compelled self-incrimination. The accused cannot be forced to be a witness against himself or his spouse. The accused have the right to due process of law. The law must be applied fairly. Due process of law is employed to evaluate the constitutionality of legal rulings and to set specific principles and procedures for fair trials. It is the key element of fairness under the law which protects the rights of the accused. There are two distinct categories under due process: substantive and procedural. Substantive due process relates to an individual's right to be protected from criminal laws that may be biased, discriminatory, and otherwise unwarranted. Procedural due process attempts to ensure that no person is deprived of life, liberty, or property without suitable and lawful criminal process. It is planned to ensure that basic fairness exists in each individual case. Due Process of Law The following rights are guaranteed to the accused under the Sixth Amendment: The right to a speedy trial. The accused must be told what he is being accused of. The accused has a right to legal counsel. In the Eighth Amendment, the accused is guaranteed the following right: Excessive bail shall not be required. Fundamental principles regarding the rights of the accused are "the burden of proof" and "the presumption of innocence." In legal actions against someone accused of a crime, the burden of proof is on the state to prove its case, not on the accused to prove his innocence. The presumption of innocence states that the defendant is always innocent until proven guilty, and never the other way around. These ideas are usually associated with the system of trials, but they are in fact associated with the entire cycle of criminal procedure that begins at the point when a law enforcement officer makes an arrest. The Supreme Court has heard many cases involving the rights of the accused. The Court's decisions have set precedents and changed laws surrounding these rights. Powell v. Alabama (1932) Nine African-Americans known as the Scottsboro Boys, led by Ozie Powell were accused of raping two young white women. The Alabama District court sentenced all but one of the Scottboro Boys to death in a series of one day trials. The Scottsboro Boys were only given access to their lawyers immediately prior to the trial, leaving no time to plan their defense. The ruling of the District Court was appealed on the grounds that the group was not provided adequate legal counsel. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the ruling of the District Court was fair. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The majority opinion overturned the decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court, holding that due process had been violated. The Supreme Court's Decision This ruling was based on three main arguments: "(1) They were not given a fair, impartial and deliberate trial; (2) They were denied the right of counsel, with the accustomed incidents of consultation and opportunity for trial; and (3) They were tried before juries from which qualified members of their own race were systematically excluded." This case determined that the accused must be given access to counsel upon his own request as part of due process. The right to counsel is as important prior to trial as it is when the trial commences; indeed, in this case, the Court described the pre-trial phase as "the most critical." Miranda v. Arizona (1966) Ernesto Arturo Miranda was arrested based on circumstantial evidence linking him to the kidnapping and rape of an 18 year old woman 10 days earlier. After two hours of interrogation by police officers, Miranda signed a confession to the rape charge. However, at no time was Miranda told of his right to counsel, and he was not advised of his right to remain silent or that his statements would be used against him during the interrogation before being presented with the form on which he was asked to write out the confession he had already given orally. Miranda's court appointed lawyer objected that the case should be thrown out because of this, but the objection was overruled, and Miranda was convicted of rape and kidnapping and sentenced to 20 to 30 years imprisonment on each charge. His lawyer appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, but they affirmed the decision of the District Court. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the opinion of the Court, ruling that due to the coercive nature of the custodial interrogation by police, no confession could be admissible under the Fifth Amendment self-incrimination clause and Sixth Amendment right to an attorney clause unless the accused had been made aware of his rights and the accused had then waived them.

"The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him. If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease ... If the individual states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present. At that time, the individual must have an opportunity to confer with the attorney and to have him present during any subsequent questioning.

Thus, Miranda's conviction was overturned and the Miranda Rights, or Miranda Warnings were established. This is a Homeland Security Official mirandizing a suspect. A typical Miranda Warning reads:
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?" Some states choose to add on certain other questions or statements to their Miranda Warnings.

In New York, the following two questions are added:
1. Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you?
2. Having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to us now? Dickerson said he was not read his Miranda warnings until after he gave his statement. The government argued that even if the Miranda warnings were not read, the statement was voluntary and therefore admissible under 18 USC Section 3501, which provides that "a confession shall be admissible in evidence if it is voluntarily given." The case was brought before the Supreme Court asking the question, "May Congress legislatively overrule Miranda v. Arizona and its warnings that govern the admissibility of statements made during custodial interrogation?" In a 7-2 decision delivered by Chief Justice Rehnquist, the Court held that Miranda governs the admissibility of statements made during interrogation in both state and federal courts. "Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture. Miranda announced a constitutional rule that Congress may not supersede legislatively. We decline to overrule Miranda ourselves." Dickerson v. United States (2000) During questioning about a robbery, Charles Dickerson made statements to the police admitting that he was the getaway driver in a series of bank robberies. Missouri v. Seibert (2004) Patrice Seibert was convicted of second degree murder for the death of 17 year old Donald Rector. Seibert was interogated by a police officer who initially withheld her Miranda warnings, hoping to get a confession from her first. Once she had confessed, the officer took a short break from questioning, then read her the Miranda rights and resumed questioning her after she waived those rights. He prompted her to restate the confession that she had made earlier. Based on this second, Mirandized confession, Seibert was convicted. She appealed, arguing that the officer's intentional use of an un-Mirandized interrogation to get the initial confession made the later confession inadmissable. The prosecution cited Oregon v. Elstad to argue that an initial, un-Mirandized confession did not make a defendant incapable of voluntarily waiving her Miranda rights and confessing later. The Missouri Supreme Court agreed with Seibert, overturning the conviction. The case was brought to the Supreme Court. The question before the Supreme Court was "Does the rule from Oregon v. Elstad that a defendant who has made an un-Mirandized confession may later waive her Miranda rights to make a second confession (admissible in court) still apply when the initial confession is the result of an intentional decision by a police officer to withhold her Miranda warnings?" In a decision with no majority, a four-justice plurality found that the post-Miranda confession is only admissible if the Miranda warning and accompanying break are sufficient to give the suspect the reasonable belief that she has the right not to speak with the police. Works Cited http://www.kosmix.com/topic/the_rights_of_the_accused_before_trial
http://www.constitution.org/ Will Lorenzo James McCool Mike Allen
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