Many people just don't know what to do when being charged with a crime. That's reasonable; criminal law is complicated, which is why we have criminal defense lawyers to take care of the finer points for us. But in the case that you are currently facing a criminal investigation or you're simply preparing for one in the future, here are three basic rights everyone has in the United States.
You've probably heard this one in pop culture: "the right to remain silent." This right comes from the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. If you are a defendant facing a criminal investigation, you have the option to "plead the Fifth," which lets you decline to testify during your trial. If truthfully answering questions being asked of you by law enforcement would incriminate you, you may plead the Fifth.
You have the right to have a trial with a lawyer and witnesses. Based on the Sixth Amendment, anyone facing a criminal investigation in the U.S. is guaranteed a trial where they can hire their own defense lawyer or have one assigned to them from the government. Any situation where you are denied representation is against your rights.
Anyone waiting for a trial to begin does not necessarily have to wait in jail. The Eighth Amendment says that defendants have the right to a "reasonable bail," which when paid allows them to wait in relative freedom for their trial date. On top of that, the Eighth ensures that while waiting for trial, you will not be "subjected to cruel and unusual punishment," in other words law enforcement cannot do anything to you physically or mentally that would be decided on as "cruel and unusual."
These are the absolute MOST important rights for civilians to remember when it comes criminal investigations. if you believe any of these rights are being violated, seek out a criminal defense attorney immediately. In general, if you are arrested and detained while possibly facing a criminal investigation, demand to speak to an attorney before all else.
If you are in the Oregon City, Clackamas County, or Lake Oswego areas, Rhett Bernstein is your best bet for an experienced and knowledgeable defense lawyer who will protect your interests in court.