Virginia residents who are facing criminal charges are usually anxious about the situation – one in which most people never find themselves. Whether you face a drunk driving charge, a drug charge or even a serious felony charge, the potential for punishment if you are convicted and sentenced can change a person’s life. Fortunately, every criminal defendant in America has important rights that need to be preserved.
Remember your rights
For starters, every criminal defendant has the “right to counsel,” which means that they are able to consult an attorney about the charges they face. If you are charged with a crime, you have the right to talk with a lawyer about how to present a defense to the charges, whether or not to pursue plea negotiations or if it is a good move to push the criminal case all the way to trial, among other issues.
If you do decide to push your case to trial, another important right is the right to have that trial take place in front of a “jury of peers.” In today’s world, this usually just means that the jury will be made up of a random draw of fellow citizens from the area where you live. Many places will use voter registration information to contact potential jurors to call them in for jury duty.
Lastly, although there are many other constitutional rights that may come into play during a criminal case, if you go to trial you need to remember your right against “self-incrimination.” Put simply, this means that the court and the prosecution cannot force you to testify in your trial – you can remain silent and, usually, the jury is instructed that they are to take no impression from the fact that you are exercising that right.