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Constitutional Rights

Posted on:3/4/2012
If you have been charged with DUI, it does not mean that you have no rights. You have certain constitutional rights.


Respect for constitutional rights in court will mean little if the same rights are not adequately protected during the pretrial stages of the criminal process. For example, the state may not, in court, question the defendant at length about the case; it may not even force him to take the witness stand if he chooses not to. But courtroom formality will be tokenism if, before trial, the police can question the suspect without check until he confesses and then use the confession at trial.


In short, the adversary process begins before the parties ever see a courtroom. Constitutional protection is as fully required for the suspect at the early, informal stages of the process as at the later, formal ones.


The law requires the exclusion of confessions which (1) are not freely and voluntarily given, or which (2) are given during a period when the accused is denied his right to counsel, or which (3) are not preceded by certain warnings. A person has the right against self-incrimination in criminal matters.


In court, this means that a man may not be forced to take the witness stand and give evidence against himself. But the privilege also means that the evidence a man is forced to give against himself outside the courtroom may not be used inside.


In other words, the very introduction of a confession violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments if the confession was not free and voluntary when it was made. A man may decide to confess to a crime, but that decision must be his own. It cannot be the product of coercion.

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