Understanding A Defendant's Rights in Oklahoma

For most people arrested or charged with a crime in our state, hiring an defense lawyer is the best option for protecting their rights.  Under the justice system, the accused have certain fundamental rights which can often only be adequately upheld with counsel from a qualified criminal attorney.

Your Rights

So what are a defendant's rights? First, anyone questioned by police or investigators has the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.  Unfortunately, many people do not realize that their right to silence is in place even before an arrest.  

Police are not required to read you your Miranda rights unless and until you have been arrested.  However, you may refuse to speak with authorities at any time.  If you are questioned by police, it is important to remember that they are likely trying to get evidence against you.  Anything you say, even if you are just trying to "straighten things up," explain your side, or defend your innocence, can be manipulated and used against you by skillful prosecutors.

It is generally recommended that you decline to answer any questions or make any statements until you have spoken with an attorney. In fact, the right to have counsel is among the most significant of a defendant's rights.  

It is important to realize that legal counsel is deemed so critical to a defendant's justice that it is a Constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment:  ""In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."  

Hiring A Qualified Attorney

By hiring a defense lawyer, you protect all other rights in a criminal investigation and trial. Court rulings have held that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is not just the right to any attorney, but the right to adequate and effective counsel:

  • "The right to counsel is the right to the effective assistance of counsel." (McMann v. Richardson, 1970)
  • A defendant has the right to "effective aid in the preparation and trial of the case." (Powell v. Alabama, 1932)
  • "The right to counsel prevents the States from conducting trials at which persons who face incarceration must defend themselves without adequate legal assistance." (Cuyler v. Sullivan, 1980)
A defendant can protect his right to effective counsel by hiring a defense attorney with a reputation for integrity and professionalism and with a proven record of success. Other defendant's rights include the right to a speedy trial, the right to a jury of one's peers, the right to an impartial jury, the right to confront one's accuser and prosecution witnesses, the right to produce evidence for the defense, and the right to testify on one's own behalf.  

In some cases, some of these rights may not hold true.  For example, in juvenile cases, a defendant would not have the right to a jury of other juveniles, and in child molestation cases, a defendant does not have the right to confront a child accuser.  

However, a qualified attorney can explain your rights and your options, and can pursue the best outcome to your case. To maximize the protection of your rights as a defendant in a criminal case, uphold your right to effective counsel by calling an experienced Oklahoma criminal defense attorney.

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