Criminal Law

Note From Our Editors: Criminal Defendants’ Rights and State Law

By Micah Schwartzbach, Attorney
The U.S. Constitution provides you with certain rights, but your state’s laws might protect you more.

At, we cover criminal law in and out. Sometimes we discuss the specifics of statutes and cases—other times we cover legal concepts more broadly. For example, in one place we might mention potential penalties in California for refusing a chemical test after a DUI arrest; in another, we might discuss general principles of self-defense law.

We base our discussion of criminal procedure—topics like police searches and interrogation—mostly on the United States Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. For instance, our coverage of interviews of in-custody suspects centers on Miranda v. Arizona, a Supreme Court case about the Fifth Amendment.

Many rights—like Miranda rights—come from the U.S. Constitution and its amendments. But states have their own constitutions, statutes, and rules. These sometimes afford suspects and defendants greater rights. For example, evidence that would have been admissible in one state or in federal court might be inadmissible in another state because the way it was obtained violates that state’s constitution. (Statutes and rules for cases in federal court can also be somewhat more protective than the U.S. Constitution—an example is a rule requiring that judges sentence convicted defendants within a reasonable period of time.)

When reading our criminal law articles, keep in mind that the laws, rules, and even practices and customs in your court system could differ. An experienced criminal defense attorney can give you an understanding of what, exactly, applies to your situation.

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