You have the right to remain silent. Almost everyone is familiar with that refrain – through television or movies if it’s not something experienced in real life.
The right to remain silent is also known as Miranda rights and it’s key to your protections as a citizen when you’re arrested in the United States.
While it is true that you have rights under the U.S. Constitution, you also have rights under the Colorado Constitution – rights that you should familiarize yourself with so you can ensure they’re not violated in the event you’re criminally accused.
Always remember that the police are only required to Mirandize you if the following occurs: law enforcement attempts to interrogate you (question you) and you are either formally in custody (arrested), or you’re not free to leave your current encounter with the police. Even though nearly every single TV show and movie, shows suspects being Mirandized the second they are arrested, this is not required. This is also not a violation of your rights. If the police do not want to ask you any questions, they are not required to Mirandize you.
Here are some key takeaways from the Colorado Constitution that you should understand when it comes to criminal accusations and what to do if you feel your rights have been violated.
Colorado Constitutional Rights
The state of Colorado has a Constitution and within that document is the Colorado Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights contains provisions that protect the rights of citizens who are facing criminal investigation or charges.
The specific rights you need to know about that relate to criminal cases are equality of justice, the security of person and search and seizure warrants, prosecution and indictment rights, rights of defendants, and self-jeopardy. Learn more about each below.
Equality of Justice
This provision guarantees that every citizen has the right to a speedy trial. Essentially, once you are charged with a crime, then the courts have to open to you to provide a remedy to you without denial or delay.
Security of Person and Search and Seizure Warrants
This provision protects you from unreasonable search and seizure and also declares that a warrant is necessary in order to search a person, place, or thing that specifically outlines what is to be searched and gives reason for it, also known as probable cause.
Prosecution and Indictment
This provision spells out the requirement for an indictment that details what you are being charged within criminal cases. Basically, you have a right to know what you are being charged with through an indictment so that you can formulate your defense.
Rights of Defendants in Criminal Prosecutions
You have the right to appear and defend yourself in person in court, with the help of an attorney if you choose, under the Colorado state constitution. You can also demand that the accusations against you be explained and that you meet witnesses face to face.
This provision also declares your right to call witnesses on your own behalf and have your case heard by an impartial jury in the district or county where the offense was alleged to have been committed.
You also have the right not to incriminate yourself by testifying against yourself in a criminal trial. You cannot be tried for the same crime twice, either. If you have a jury that disagrees or if the judgment is stopped after a verdict is given or reversed due to an error in the law, then you will be regarded by the law not to have been in jeopardy and another trial may take place.
Trial by Jury
Finally, although this is covered under other constitutional provisions, there is a stipulation specifically addressing your right to a trial by jury. In all criminal cases, you have a right to a trial by an impartial jury.
What If You Believe Your Colorado Rights Were Violated?
Law enforcement and the Colorado courts both must adhere to the rights afforded individuals under the constitution. If you believe your rights have been violated, then you need an attorney to help. That may be your key to having the charges against you terminated if your rights were infringed upon at any point in the process.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.