Whether you are being investigated for a criminal offense, or are charged with a criminal offense, you have several constitutional rights. These rights include:
A person has the right to consult with an attorney during all phases of a criminal investigation. Law enforcement cannot deny this right. When being investigated for a criminal offense you should always contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately for assistance to protect your rights. In some circumstances, an experienced attorney can prevent criminal charges from being filed. If charged with a crime then you have the right to hire an attorney of your choice for representation.
A person under investigation has the absolute right to remain silent and is not required to talk to the police. Use it! When the police tell you "anything you say can be used against you in a court of law" they mean it! Very often the only evidence against a person is their own words. You should always exercise your right to remain silent and should never speak with the police until you have consulted with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If being investigated for a criminal offense you have the same right as the police to gather evidence and interview witnesses. Very often a person under investigation relies upon the police investigation to gather meaningful evidence. However, the police investigation is focused on obtaining evidence to secure a conviction and the police often overlook, or ignore, evidence which tends to show innocence. A person has the same right as the police to investigate, gather evidence, and interview witnesses. Failure to take advantage of this right can lead to disastrous consequences.
A person has the absolute right to refuse consent to a search. Very often, people, not knowing their rights, allow the police to search their vehicle, home, or their person. In many instances the police seize evidence, based on consent, to use in a criminal prosecution that they otherwise would not find. You have the absolute right to refuse consent--always exercise this right.
If the prosecution has gathered forensic evidence for criminal prosecution the accused has the right to have all evidence independently tested. You are not required to accept the results from the State crime lab. You have the right to have forensic evidence, such as blood, urine, DNA, ballistics, tested at a lab of your choice.
In all felony cases, and in some misdemeanor cases, the accused has the right to a trial by jury. This right should always be exercised. If your case proceeds to trial, always demand a trial by jury.
If convicted of a criminal offense, prior to sentencing you have the right to present any and all mitigation to the Court; that is, evidence, testimony, and information that will tend to reduce your sentence. Prior to sentencing, the county probation department is required to prepare a pre-sentence report for the Court. Very often, this is the only information available to the Court in making a sentencing decision. Billy K. Sipe, Jr., as an experienced Certified Criminal Law Attorney, will never allow a client's fate to be decided only upon a county prepared pre-sentence report. Mr. Sipe is one of the few attorney's (if not the only attorney) who always prepares a professional and thorough Sentencing Memorandum and presents all relevant mitigation to the Court IN ADVANCE of the sentencing hearing. This can, and has, made the difference between prison and probation.