fifth amendment

Why Would a Criminal Defense Lawyer Choose To Help a Defendant?

Certain questions always get asked when potential clients call our firm.  They typically ask about the likely outcome of the case (they want legal advice) and how much it will all cost.  However, in normal day-to-day life, non-potential clients ask different questions once they find out I am a criminal defense lawyer.  They ask: How can you represent criminals and what do you do when you know they are guilty? My answers are typically short even though my reasons are important. Rarely are they interested in really hearing my full explanation. Now is a good time to explain. So, bare with me a bit while we examine this issue from a variety of angles. Hopefully by the end I will have answered why I am a defense attorney and why you should care.

How well do you know your Miranda rights?

There are many misunderstandings about the Miranda rights: what they are, what they protect against, when they must be stated and when they can be evoked. Experts estimate about 80 percent of suspectsunintentionally waive their Miranda rights. It's often due to a lack of understanding, the stress of the moment or a combination of the two. Make sure you know the facts and how the law protects you.

What are the rights of passengers during a traffic stop?

Traffic-stop confrontations between police and motorists have made the news on a regular basis in recent years, leading to serious discussions about drivers' rights. Many experts advise drivers to comply first and complain later, but when it comes to passengers, what's expected? Do those riding in a vehicle that gets pulled over face the same requirements as those behind the wheel? 

Fifth Amendment Protections Explained

Fresno criminal defense attorney gavel

If you are involved in a criminal case, either as a defendant or a witness, a Fresno criminal defense lawyer wants you to know how the Fifth Amendment can protect you.

Self-Incrimination and Criminal Cases

The Fifth Amendment states that “no person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” A Fresno criminal defense attorney knows that “criminal case” includes:

• Preliminary hearings; • Grand jury hearings; • All pre-trial hearings; • Trial; and • Sentencing.

If there is any risk that disclosure can incriminate you, be it from the implication of the question or the setting in which it is asked, then you have the right to refuse to answer. Even if you are innocent, you can invoke the privilege if there is a cause for you to fear being prosecuted. When meeting with your attorney, discuss honestly why you feel you may incriminate yourself, and the attorney will advise whether you should invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Adverse Inference

In addition, a Fresno criminal defense lawyer advises that a prosecutor may not comment on your use of this privilege. This is known as “adverse inference.” Not only may a prosecutor not comment, but the jury must be instructed to not draw any adverse inference by your utilization of this privilege.

Know Your Rights

For more information regarding using the Fifth Amendment when you are a defendant or a witness, and other protective measures, schedule a meeting with Fresno criminal defense lawyer Nicco Capozzi at 559-374-2012.