We believe that no innocent person should be convicted or forced to plead to charges when he or she is innocent, or the State or federal government tries to punish a person too harshly.
We believe that too many innocent men and women are jailed and that too often, the punishment does not fit the crime.
We understand that facing criminal charges is frustrating, highly stressful, maddening, and affects the person charged, his or her family and children, his or her employment and every aspect of life and living.
We understand that the police may jump to conclusions without justification and that prosecutors may be tempted to cut corners to gain a conviction.
We know that a criminal record carries long term consequences for any individual and his or her reputation and career.
We approach every criminal case acutely aware of these realities.
Although every criminal case is different, many of the issues in any criminal case are similar. For example, your rights under the U.S. Constitution apply to all cases. In every criminal case, the prosecutor has the burden of proving each element of each charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants have the right to ask that a jury of their peers decide their case, and not a judge. Some of the other key issues in most criminal cases include the following:
Stops and searches
Police need grounds to stop you before they arrest you. They do need reasonable grounds to search your possessions. To obtain a warrant, the police must convince a local judge that they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. Police can’t stop every driver they see to test for a DUI. They need to observe the driver do something, such as swerve or speed, that leads them to believe the driver might reasonably be intoxicated.
The exclusionary rule provides that when the police make improper stops or illegal searches, the evidence they obtain should be suppressed because your Fourth Amendment rights take priority over the concerns of the police. Police shouldn’t be rewarded for violating your rights.
Basic Constitutional rights
The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments provide numerous protections that apply in criminal cases. These include:
- The right to use counsel of your own choosing. If you can’t afford counsel, then you should be eligible for a public defender. If you can afford counsel, it pays to use one with experience and who is respected by the legal community.
- The right to a speedy trial. Governments can’t place you in jail indefinitely or until they find enough evidence. You have the right to have your case heard in a timely manner.
- The right to be advised of the charges against you. This is normally done through an indictment or an arraignment.
- The right not to incriminate yourself. Statements given to the police that aren’t voluntary should be excluded. The police are required, once they place anyone in custody, to tell that person they have the right to remain silent.
- Freedom from double jeopardy. You can’t be tried more than once, in the same jurisdiction, for the same crime. You also can’t be punished more than once.
Your rights before trial
There should be a process for bail so that defendants can be free to work with their attorneys and with anyone knowledgeable about their case. It’s much easier to do this when you’re not locked behind bars.
You have the right to assert an alibi that confirms you couldn’t have committed the crime because you weren’t there when it was committed.
You have the right to ask that any evidence against you be suppressed if that evidence was illegally obtained.
Your rights at trial
You have the right to question and cross-examine the witnesses against you.
You have the right to present witnesses on your own behalf.
You have the right to a presumption of innocence. The prosecution must prove each part of the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt
You have the right to demand that the prosecution show the chain of custody of the evidence. If there was a break in the chain from the time it was taken to the time of trial, you have the right to ask that the evidence be dismissed.
At the Law Office of Perry A. Craft PLLC, we fight to obtain acquittals, to have charges dismissed, to have evidence suppressed, and to negotiate fair plea deals. We fight hard for those charged with crimes. For help with any criminal charge, call us at 615-953-3808 or use our contact form to arrange a time to speak with us.
Perry A. Craft has dedicated his life to helping people in need. He has tried, settled, or resolved numerous civil and criminal cases in State and Federal courts, and has represented teachers and administrators before school boards, administrative judges, and the state Board of Education. Learn more about Mr. Craft.