Constitution Law Books and Scales of JusticeIf you follow the news, you know that the police often make mistakes and violate suspects’ and defendants’ constitutional rights when making a traffic stop, conducting a criminal investigation, and arresting them. However, you may not realize that constitutional violations could be the basis of a strong defense against the charges you face—even if you are guilty.

You need to understand the common violations of constitutional rights in criminal cases if you have been charged with a crime. The best way to know if your rights were violated is to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will aggressively defend you to achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case.

Common Constitutional Rights That Are Violated in Virginia Criminal Cases

You have important constitutional rights when you are a suspect in a criminal investigation or charged with committing a crime. You have these rights whether you are guilty or innocent. Unfortunately, the police routinely violate suspects’ and defendants’ rights. Here are some common rights that may have been violated in your criminal case:

Unlawful Search and Seizure

You are protected from unlawful searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The police are prohibited from searching your home, car, or you without a valid search warrant or probable cause. To have probable cause, the police must have probable cause that a criminal offense was committed and that you were the individual who committed the crime. Your Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated if evidence was collected against you without a warrant or probable cause.

Miranda Warnings

Under the Fifth Amendment, you have constitutional protection against self-incrimination. The police officer must give you your Miranda warnings when they arrest you, place you in a custodial situation where you are not free to leave, or want to question you. When they are required to give Miranda warnings, they must inform you of the following:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in court.
  • You have a right to an attorney in your criminal case. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you at no charge to you.

The police can violate your right against self-incrimination by failing to give you your Miranda warnings or questioning you after you exercise your right to remain silent or request an attorney.

Right to a Competent Lawyer

You have a right to be represented by an attorney in your criminal case under the Sixth Amendment. Your constitutional rights may be violated if a competent criminal defense lawyer does not represent you.

How a Violation of Your Constitutional Rights Can Affect the Outcome of Your Virginia Criminal Case

Violations of your constitutional rights can profoundly impact what happens in your criminal case. They may help you avoid a conviction and the long-term consequences of a permanent criminal record. Here are some ways your case could be affected:

  • Suppression of evidence. You may be able to file a motion to suppress evidence collected by the police or your confession if your constitutional rights are violated. The prosecutor might be forced to dismiss the charges if there is insufficient evidence to convict you or enter into a favorable plea bargain where the charges against you are dropped, or your sentence is reduced.
  • Acquittal at trial. If you decide to take your case to trial, you could be found not guilty if the prosecutor cannot prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Appeal. The violation of your constitutional rights could be the basis for an appeal. Ineffective counsel is a common ground for filing an appeal when someone is convicted of committing a crime.

Are you facing criminal charges in Virginia? Our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys can explain the charges you face, your defenses, and what you can expect to happen in your criminal case. We can also mount a strong defense strategy to help you get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Call our Manassas office at 888-DUI-LWYR, or fill out our online form today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more about how our dedicated lawyers can help you.