Can a Defendant Fight Any Criminal Charge?

Those accused of criminal offenses have a constitutional right to challenge the allegations against them. They can cross-examine the government’s witnesses and contest its evidence to test and weaken the validity of the claims against them.

These constitutional rights extend to all crimes, regardless of the seriousness of the alleged offense or what jurisdiction it falls under. In other words, yes, a defendant can fight any criminal charge against them.

Still, combating accusations requires building a solid legal strategy. Various components go into crafting a defense. If the defendant is unfamiliar with the justice system, they might face difficulties when disputing the allegations. Fortunately, a person accused of a crime has the right to be represented by counsel. An attorney can help their client understand the legal processes and ensure that the individual’s side of the story is heard.

At Brockton D. Hunter P.A., we are dedicated to standing up for those facing criminal charges in Minneapolis. Please contact us at (612) 979-1112 today.

Due Process and the Confrontation Clause

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that no person can “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” When a person is accused of a crime, it’s possible for them to be sentenced to jail or prison. Confinement in a correctional facility restricts a person’s freedoms. The Fifth Amendment protection suggests that it would be unjust for a person to be subject to such sanctions if they have not gone through the appropriate legal steps and have been found guilty.

Under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a person involved in a criminal case has the right to face their accuser. Referred to as the Confrontation Clause, the protection allows defendants to cross-examine anyone testifying or making statements against them in or out of court.

By confronting the government’s witnesses, the defendant can expose inconsistencies in remarks or weaknesses in proof and counter the witnesses’ statements. This enables the judge or jury to see first-hand how witnesses respond and decide for themselves the truthfulness of the witnesses’ statements.

The due process provision and the Confrontation Clause apply to:

Thus, no matter what a defendant has been accused of or which governmental entity prosecutes the case, the individual has the right to fight the charge.

Building a Defense to Criminal Charges

When the state or federal government pursues a criminal case, the onus rests on the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden requires that the government provide evidence to support its assertions that the defendant violated all elements of the alleged offense.

The government might have collected evidence against the defendant, such as results of a chemical test showing a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher or a witness’s statements putting the defendant at the crime scene. However, that doesn't mean that the defendant cannot fight the charge and should plead guilty. They can build a defense against the accusations to cast doubt on the prosecutor’s assertions.

Ways a defendant can combat criminal charges include, but are not limited to:

  • Remaining silent. Another protection under the Fifth Amendment is the right not to be a witness against oneself. A defendant can politely refuse to answer a police officer’s questions to prevent making self-incriminating remarks. By not giving statements to officials, the defendant avoids providing authorities with information that could be misconstrued and used against them in court.
  • Understanding the charges. State and federal statutes list the elements of criminal offenses. When someone is accused of a crime, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of each of the elements. By understanding the law for their alleged offense, the defendant can identify ways to weaken the accusations against them.
  • Recognizing constitutional violations. Defendants in criminal cases are afforded various rights under the constitution. For instance, law enforcement officials can’t arrest them or search their property without probable cause. If officials violated any of the defendant’s rights, the individual could have grounds to file a motion to suppress and have certain pieces of evidence deemed inadmissible in court.
  • Crafting a compelling narrative of the case. The defendant can develop a legal strategy telling their side of the story and providing an alternative explanation to the prosecutor’s interpretation of the evidence.
  • Hiring an attorney. The criminal justice system is complex, and a defendant might not be fully aware of all their rights. They might also be unfamiliar with the laws and rules that must be followed when defending against criminal charges. A criminal defense lawyer can provide guidance throughout every stage of the case, helping the defendant avoid missteps that could hurt the outcome.

If you need experienced defense in Minneapolis, reach out to Brockton D. Hunter P.A. by calling (612) 979-1112 or submitting an online contact form.