Know your rights
The United States Constitution guarantees the following rights:
Your rights protect you
Against self-incrimination. The Fifth Amendment guarantees your right not to incriminate yourself. If
the police detain you, they must warn you that anything you choose to say can be used against you.
Note that the police can always use your voluntary statements against you.
To an attorney. The Sixth Amendment guarantees your right to an attorney that you choose or to an
attorney that the state appoints for you, if you cannot afford to retain your own. You can have your
attorney present during: (i) custodial police interrogation; (ii) post-indictment interrogation, whether or
not custodial; (iii) preliminary hearings to determine if probable cause exists to prosecute; (iv)
arraignment; (v) post-charge lineups; (vi) guilty plea and sentencing; (vii) felony trials; (viii) misdemeanor
trials that result in imprisonment or a suspended jail sentence; (ix) overnight recesses during trial; (x)
appeals as a matter of right; and (xi) appeals of guilty pleas.
To a speedy and public trial. The Sixth Amendment guarantees you a speedy and public trial. Each court
has procedures that safeguard this guarantee. For tactical reasons, defendants often agree to waive this
To confront the evidence. The Sixth Amendment guarantees you the right to confront evidence against
you, including the testimony of adverse witnesses. Among other important protections, your right to
confront the evidence against you protects you against "hearsay" (the purported statement of an
out-of-court witness, offered to prove the matter asserted by the statement).
To the presumption of innocence. The prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
To protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment protects you from
most warrantless searches and seizures. If an officer executes a warrantless search or seizure, the officer
must show both necessity and probable cause for the warrantless search or seizure.
Never waive your rights before speaking with your lawyer.