Jonathan R. Morrison, Attorney At Law

Rights of the Accused

Jonathan R. Morrison Criminal Defense Attorney

The founders of the United States, armed with hindsight from the colonial days and their experience in Britain, understood that individual rights cannot be protected and democracies cannot function unless those accused of crimes receive what we now call due process of law. The rights of the accused have been established in the Bill of Rights and have been continuously refined in courtrooms ever since.

Your Rights if You Are Charged with a Crime

Innocent Until Proven Guilty
The basis for these rights is the supposition that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty

When you are arrested or charged with a crime in Washington State you have many rights. The list of the following rights has been put together to help you understand what those rights are. Deciding which rights to exercise and when to exercise them is a decision best made after speaking with an attorney.

1. You have a right to refuse to answer any questions. You may be required to identify yourself, but you cannot be required to make statements or answer questions. You should remember that whatever you say to the officer may (and probably will) be used if charges are filed against you at a later time. This is true even if you do not give a formal, signed "statement,"It is always better to decline to make any statements or answer a question until after you have consulted with a lawyer.

2. You have a right to speak with an attorney. The police must advise you that you have a right to speak with an attorney as soon as practical after your arrest. If you request to speak with an attorney, the police may not ask you any questions about the incident until you have had an opportunity to speak with an attorney.

3. You have a right to receive notice of the charges and penalties. When you first appear in court, you have the right to be told the nature of the charges against you and to have those charges formally read in open court. You also have the right to be informed of the maximum penalty you could face if convicted and any mandatory minimum penalties the court must impose.

4. You have a right to plead not guilty at arraignment. A plea of not guilty at arraignment will not be held against you at any time. In fact, many courts will not allow you to plead guilty to a serious charge without consulting an attorney first.

5. You have a right to an attorney. You have a right to have an attorney of your choosing represent you throughout the entire criminal process and for that attorney to be present with you at all court hearings. If you cannot afford an attorney and qualify financially, the court will appoint a public defender to represent you. You also have a right to represent yourself and proceed without an attorney. However, if you choose to represent yourself, the court will hold you to the same standard as an attorney and expect you to understand the law and procedures as they pertain to your case.

6. You have a right to a speedy and public jury trial. You have a right to a speedy and public trial by jury. A speedy trial is one that occurs no more than ninety days from your first court appearance if you are out of custody or sixty days if you are in custody. Your trial would occur in a courtroom open to the public. Your jury would consist of people from the community who would hear all the evidence presented and make a decision as to your guilt or innocence.

7. You have a right to be presumed innocent. You have a right to be considered innocent of any criminal charge until you are convicted or until you enter a plea of guilty. However, the court does have the power to impose certain conditions while the case is pending against you this can include no contact orders, attendance at self-help sobriety meetings like AA, or even the posting of bail or bond.

8. You have a right to be convicted by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. You have a right to require that the prosecutor prove every element of a charge beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest burden of proof in the legal system. As a defendant, you are not required to present any evidence or prove your innocence.

9. You have a right to confront witnesses who testify against you. You have a right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses testifying against you. This means that the prosecutor will subpoena witnesses to testify against you, and you (through your attorney) will be able to question these witnesses.

10. You have a right to call witnesses to testify on your behalf. You have a right to call witnesses who can testify on your behalf. These witnesses can be compelled to appear in court by subpoena.

11. You have a right to testify or not testify. You have a right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. This means that if you choose not to, no one can force you to take the stand and testify. If you choose not to testify, this cannot be held against you. You also have the right to testify. If you choose to testify, the prosecuting attorney is allowed to cross-examine you about your case and anything you say while testifying.

12. You have a right to appeal a conviction or sentence. If you are convicted of a criminal charge you have a right to appeal this conviction to a higher court.

Definition of a Crime

A crime is a violation of a specific state or federal criminal statute or municipal ordinance. Crimes in Washington generally fall into two categories: (1) felonies and (2) misdemeanors. The exact punishment that can be imposed upon conviction of a crime depends on the type of crime and the individual's prior criminal record.

Generally speaking, a felony is a crime for which the sentence may be more than one year in prison. In the state of Washington, there are three classes of felonies: class A, class B and class C. Class A felonies are the most serious.

There are two categories of misdemeanors in this state: gross misdemeanors (punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine) and simple misdemeanors (punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine).

Convictions for certain crimes may require mandatory minimum sentences, and penalties may be increased if the crime occurred while armed with a firearm or deadly weapon. Washington's Sentencing Reform Act governs punishments for felonies in this state. Except for special circumstances, the court must sentence the offender within a particular range set by the state Legislature.

For a felony charge, first offenders may be eligible for special sentencing consideration for nonviolent crimes. If the court grants probation as a part of the court's sentence, a person must be placed on community supervision for between 12 and 24 months. For gross and simple misdemeanors, first offenders may be eligible for a disposition that does not result in a criminal conviction.

DUI attorney Port Orchard

Definition of Arrest

There is no easy definition for what constitutes an arrest. Detention accompanied by handcuffing, drawn guns, or words to the effect that one is under arrest qualifies as an arrest. It requires a seizure and forcible restraint. An officer must have probable cause to determine that you committed a crime to arrest you.

However, not every stop or detention by a police officer means you are under arrest. If stopped only for a short time and questioned, then you may have been "detained," rather than legally arrested. An police officer need not have probable cause to detain and question you, rather they must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred, and they can investigate to confirm or dispel this suspicion.

A warrant generally is not required to make an arrest if there is probable cause to believe the person arrested has committed a felony. Also, a warrant may not be required when a misdemeanor was committed in the presence of the arresting officer, or in many misdemeanors cases, outside his or her presence.
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal investigation, an arrest, a trial, or jail time in a Washington State district or federal court, then you need an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney with a proven track record. Jonathan R. Morrison has been defending clients in Washington for over 10 years. Call 360-621-8766 for a free consultation.

Home About Practice Areas DUI Your Rights Legal Links Contact
Facebook Twitter
We accept all major credit cards.
© 2014 Jonathan R. Morrison, Attorney At Law. All rights reserved.