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Were Your Rights Violated? A Checklist

If you have been accused of committing a crime, you still have several rights that cannot be violated by law enforcement. Police, purposefully or not, can make accused individuals feel helpless or coerced into cooperating with their investigation, even if doing so is against your best interests and even if your rights say otherwise. Were your rights violated during arrest, questioning, or incarceration? Here is a checklist explaining your rights.

You Were Read Your Miranda Rights

Police do not have to read Miranda rights in every situation to all those whom they charge or question. But police must convey to you that you have the right to remain silent, that whatever you do say can be used against you, that you have a right to an lawyer, and that if you cannot afford one, you can have an lawyer appointed for you if they are questioning you while you are in police custody (i.e., not free to leave).

You Were Permitted to Remain Silent

One of your most important rights as an accused person is the right to remain silent. That is, you are under no obligation to help police prove their case or develop evidence against you (called self-incrimination). If you were not permitted to remain silent or experienced force or coercion aimed at making you speak or incriminate yourself, your rights may have been violated.

You Were Permitted to Have an Lawyer Present

If you are being questions while in police custody, you have the right to have an lawyer present. Police may not deny you that request, and if you cannot afford an lawyer, a public defender should be provided for you (assuming you meet the criteria for one).

Once You Requested an Lawyer, Questioning Stopped

Once you request the assistance of an lawyer, the police may not question you without your lawyer anymore. This is true even for subsequent conversations, and even if you did not request an lawyer when the initial questioning began.

You Were Charged Promptly

Police may not hold you for an extended period of time without charging you with a crime first. The time itself varies by state. If you were held longer than the time permits, your rights may have been violated. Similarly, once you are charged, scheduling orders and time limits apply to guarantee your right to a speedy trial.

You Were Not Subject to Brutality

As seen in recent media reports, police brutality can and does happen. If you were treated harshly or inhumanely (for instance, were beaten or injured, or were deprived of access to water), your rights may have been violated.

Have you been arrested or charged with a crime? At Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, Lawyers and Counselors at Law, our experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyers are available to evaluate whether your rights have been violated, to advise you, and to represent you. Overcoming the imbalance of power between the accused and law enforcement simply requires you to remain silent and ask for an lawyer (even if police insist it is in your best interests to cooperate). Call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 for a consultation today.

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