If you are like most people in New York, you are aware that the criminal justice system recognizes alleged crimes based on varying degrees of severity. It also identifies crimes in part based on jurisdiction. Some crimes are prosecuted at the local or municipal level while others are prosecuted at the state or the federal level. Regardless of whether you are accused of petty theft, murder or treason, you are guaranteed some very important rights under the law.
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is frequently referenced in movies, television shows and by other media as it directly relates to a defendant's rights. There are multiple provisions and protections outlined in this Amendment. One of the most famous is the protection against self-incrimination. This essentially means that you should never have to testify against yourself. The Miranda rights that must be read to you before you are arrested are founded on this principle. By allowing you to remain silent, you are prevented against incriminating yourself, even unintentionally.
The ability to be shielded from acting as a witness against yourself is only for individuals accused of individual crimes, not for organizations or for individuals acting as agents of an organization that is the subject of a criminal investigation or matter.
If you would like to learn more about the rights that are granted to you in the face of criminal accusations based on the Constitution of the United States, please feel free to visit the defendant's protections and rights page of our New York criminal defense website.