Your Rights When Charged with an Indiana Sex Crime
If you’ve been charged with committing a sex crime, you have the same rights as any other criminal defendant. Unfortunately, there is such a stigma surrounding these crimes, and the prosecutor may be under such pressure to convict you, that you’ll have to fight for your rights at every turn of the criminal justice process. In theory, you are innocent until proven guilty, but you may find that the police, the prosecutor, and the judge may treat you like a criminal as soon as the process begins.
For this reason, you should hire an aggressive and skilled Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer to defend your case as soon as you are arrested over sex crime charges. With a good lawyer by your side, you’ll stand a better chance of receiving a fair trial and obtaining a positive case outcome.
What Are my Rights Under the US Constitution?
The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution protects people on the territory of the United States from overreaches of government authority. These constitutional rights protect you anytime you are interacting with an official representative of the government, such as a police officer, prosecutor, or court official. Here are some examples:
- 4th Amendment — You have the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that the police need to have a warrant to enter your house and search for evidence, unless you give them consent or there is an emergency (the authorities will bear the burden of showing there were emergent circumstances in your case). Your right to be free from unreasonable seizures applies to both your property and your person, meaning that the police need a warrant for your arrest unless they witness you committing a crime.
- 5th Amendment — You have the right to refuse to answer questions from the police or the prosecutor at any stage of the investigation or prosecution process. This doesn’t keep the police from trying to trick you into answering their questions and incriminating yourself. It’s safest to use your 5th amendment rights to their fullest extent, and politely decline to ever give any information to a police officer or prosecutor. The 5th amendment also gives you so-called procedural due process rights, meaning that you have the right to a fair and impartial trial.
- 6th Amendment — As a criminal defendant, you have the right to a trial by jury administered in a timely fashion and to be informed of the nature and cause of all accusations against you. Additionally, you have the right to legal counsel, to confront the prosecution’s witnesses, and to compel a witness to testify on your behalf.
As you can see, you have many rights as a criminal defendant—perhaps so many that it can be difficult for you to ensure that every one of your rights is used to its fullest extent during the criminal process. That’s why it’s important to hire a skilled Indianapolis sex crimes lawyer. He or she will know how and when to invoke your rights when you face charges for sex crimes. What you need to remember is that you have the right to refuse a search, the right to remain silent, and the right to a lawyer. If you can’t afford a lawyer, the court must appoint one for you, free of charge.
What Are My Rights as a Criminal Defendant in Indiana?
When you get arrested for committing a sex crime in Indiana, you have the right to be promptly taken before the court to hear the charges against you. If you’re in jail, it shouldn’t take more than one or two days for you to get this initial hearing. If you’ve not been incarcerated, or have posted bail, it can take up to two weeks for your initial hearing to take place.
During this hearing, the judge will read the charges against you and let you know of your rights as a criminal defendant in Indiana, which basically mirror your rights under the US constitution. According to Article I, section 13 of the Indiana constitution, you have the right to:
- A public trial held in the county where the alleged offense occurred
- An impartial jury
- A lawyer
- Know the nature and cause of the charges against you
- Confront the prosecution’s witnesses and to compel people to testify in your favor
The initial hearing is not the time or place for you to argue your case. In fact, talking about the facts of your case or trying to plead with the judge will only make matters worse. You will be given the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. At this stage of the process, you should always plead not guilty—unless your attorney has specifically told you otherwise.
How Can My Lawyer Defend My Rights in my Sex Crimes Case?
Once you have heard the charges against you and entered a plea of not guilty, you have the right to request from the prosecutor all of the available evidence pertaining to your case. This so-called discovery process must include evidence that is incriminating, but also any evidence that may be in your favor. The evidence will include a list of witnesses, police reports, and statements from witnesses and the alleged victim.
At the discovery stage, your attorney will be able to ensure that the prosecution actually provides all the evidence they have. Your attorney will also be able to sift through and understand what may be a very large volume of documents. Based on an initial analysis, your lawyer will determine whether it’s necessary to interview under oath—or depose—any of the prosecution’s witnesses before the trial.
Your lawyer’s experience will be crucial once the discovery process is complete. If any of the evidence against you was obtained in violation of your rights, it cannot be used against you during the trial. Your lawyer may be able to file a pre-trial motion to suppress—or remove—evidence from the prosecution’s case when:
- The police search your home without a warrant and without your consent to obtain evidence of your wrongdoing
- The police arrest you or seize your property without a warrant or reasonable cause
- The police interrogate you without making you aware of your right to remain silent
These pre-trial motions are important, because they may enable you to obtain the dismissal of your charges without having to go through the expense and inconvenience of a full trial. Analyzing all of the evidence of your case is very time consuming, and in some cases a public defender doesn’t have enough time to adequately research and prepare these crucial pre-trial motions.
At Hessler Law PC, however, our goal is to explore every possible defense strategy available to our clients. We have the both the time and commitment to give your sex crimes case an in-depth look. If you want to learn more about how we can help, call an Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer today with Hessler Law and we’ll give you a confidential phone consultation—free of charge at (317) 886-8800.