What are They? Click here for complete List

Bill of Rights Link-http://madison-ms.lausd.k12.ca.us/kashj/ushistory/rights.htm
.ppt helpful links full of great information- http://government.mrdonn.org/powerpoints/billofrights.html
Games- http://www.wartgames.com/themes/government/billofrights.html
Save Bill of Rights- Game http://constitutioncenter.org/billofrightsgame/

Court Cases

1st Amendment- Free Speech http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_21/
1st Amendment- Free Press http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1970/1970_1873/
1st Amendment- Free assembly/protest http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_88_155/
1st Amendment- Free Speech http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1918/1918_437/
4th Amendment- Private Property http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1983/1983_83_712/

Info Amendments 4-7

Guide to Understanding the
Rights of the Accused under the Bill of Rights


The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Terms and Tidbits
  • Regulates government action, not action by private citizens.
  • In general, search or seizure without a warrant is unreasonable (with some exceptions). If unreasonable, 4th amendment is violated.
  • Evidence gathered in violation of the 4th amendment is not admissible in a criminal trial, known as the exclusionary rule. Any evidence derived from illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible (fruit of the poisonous tree).
  • In determining if a search or seizure is reasonable, the individual’s interest in privacy and security are weighed against society’s interest in conducting the search or seizure. (Two-hour surgery to remove a bullet ruled unreasonable; taking blood from DWI suspect ruled reasonable)
  • Action by government that violates a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy is an illegal search, includes search of property and search of person
  • Situation with knowing exposure to public is not protected sometimes even if attempts are made to make it private (garbage, open fields abandoned property).
  • Also guests to home receive protection when they are overnight guests but not when short-term visitors.
  • Substantial interference with possessions or with a person who believes that he or she is not free to leave or terminate encounter,
  • Usually involves some physical force to body or submission to authority,
  • Talking to police is not seizure; demand by police to go to station is seizure.


  • Most searches require a warrant based on probable cause issued by a judge that provides permission for the government authority to search or seize. Provides a neutral evaluation of the evidence.

  • There are exceptions to warrant requirement: search incident to arrest, “stop and frisk” detention (Terry stop), border searches, airport searches, fire fighting, etc.
  • Arrest warrants generally not required for felony arrest in public place as long as probable cause exists.
Probable cause
· Facts or circumstances that make a reasonable person believe a crime has been committed and that evidence of the crime will be found in the place to be searched.
· Less than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” more than reasonable suspicion.
· Needs trustworthy evidence. Look at quality of information and source (informants)
· Terry stops require reasonable suspicion, a bit less that probable cause.
Supported by oath.
  • Warrants are issued by judge based on written, signed affidavit.

Particularly describing

· Application for warrant must describe the place to be searched so precise as to allow independent determination of location (include specific address, license number, etc.)

· Item/person to be seized must be specifically identified in warrant.


No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Terms and Tidbits

  • Criminal charge that is based on a process of reviewing facts and circumstances to determine if there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that it is more likely true than not true that the person under consideration committed the crime.
  • Required in all federal criminal prosecutions.
  • In Minnesota only required in first degree murder cases, but also used in politically sensitive cases.
Grand jury
  • Group of citizens that meets to review the evidence and decide if it is sufficient to issue an indictment. Different from a trial jury (petit jury).

Twice put in jeopardy
  • Double jeopardy.
  • The state with all of its resources and power should not be allowed to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, subjecting the individual to embarrassment, expense, and ordeal or compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and uncertainty.
  • In general, jeopardy attaches when the jury is sworn in (jury trial) or the first witness is sworn in (trial to a judge).
  • Prevents prosecutorial abuse.
Compelled to be witness against himself
  • Self-incrimination, voluntary confession.
  • Based on history and fear of coerced confessions where suspects are beaten until they confess, the protection from self-incrimination allows all persons to “plead the fifth” and say nothing that would implicate them in the crime.
  • Also applies to people who claim to be innocent.
  • Involuntary confessions cannot be used for any purpose.

Deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law.

· Can be deprived of these basic rights as long as the process for doing so established by law is followed. In other words, the “process due” to the suspect must be complied with.

· Miranda warning refers to the due process requirement that a person in custody be informed of his or her rights (right to remain silent, anything said can be used against the suspect in court, right to have an attorney, attorney will be provided without cost if suspect cannot afford one).

· A person in a “Terry” stop does not have to be given the Miranda warning. Test is whether a reasonable person would believe he or she is in custody.

· Miranda rights refer to two different rights: right not to be interrogated, right to have a lawyer. Waiver of rights must be knowing, intelligent and voluntary.


In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Terms and Tidbits

Speedy Trial
  • An important safeguard to prevent undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial, to minimize anxiety and concern accompanying public accusations and to limit the possibility that long delay will impair the ability of an accused to defend himself or herself.
  • Whether right is violated depends on circumstances, length of delay, reason for delay, defendant’s assertion of right, prejudice to defendant.
Public Trial
  • Helps assure the defendant a fair and accurate adjudication of guilt or innocence, provides a public demonstration of fairness, discourages perjury, discourages the misconduct of participants (judges, prosecutors, and others), and discourages decisions based on secret bias or partiality.
  • It is the defendant’s right and the public’s right under the First Amendment (public’s right to know what is going on in governmental institutions).
  • A defendant cannot ask to have the trial closed to the public unless the defendant’s right to a fair trial is jeopardized. Juvenile proceedings are the exception.
Impartial jury
  • Prevents oppression by the government, reflects reluctance to trust questions of life and liberty to a judge.
  • Defendant can waive right to a jury trial.
  • No constitutional right to jury trial in juvenile proceedings.
  • Jury of peers does not mean same age, same neighborhood but must be selected from a representative cross section of the community from which the defendants comes.
  • Jury pools come from government lists (voter registration, drivers license, state identifications). They should represent the racial and ethnic makeup of the community.
  • Jurors chosen must be unbiased. Jurors are questioned about their impartiality and are removed through challenges if necessary.
Informed of accusation
  • The state must inform suspects of the nature of the charges against them.
Confront witnesses
· Suspects have the right to question the state’s witnesses.
· Confrontation Clause requires that the witnesses be present in most cases and is connected to the “hearsay rule” in the rules of evidence.
· No face-to-face confrontation requirement with child sex crime victims.
Obtaining witnesses through compulsory process
  • Suspects have the right to subpoena witnesses on their own behalf. This is the right to present a defense.
Assistance of counsel
  • Absolute right to an attorney after initiation of criminal case (line up, custodial police interrogation, juvenile delinquency proceedings, felony trials, guilty pleas and sentencing.)
  • Right doesn’t apply to photo identifications, pre-charge line-ups, taking of handwriting, fingerprints, voice samples, preliminary hearings to determine probable cause to detain, post-conviction proceedings.
  • Applies for court appointed lawyers and private lawyers.
  • The right to counsel is the right to affective assistance of counsel.
  • Also guarantees the defendant the right to represent him or herself. This right must be asserted knowingly and intelligently, judge can deny under some circumstances.


Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Terms and Tidbits

Excessive bail

· Amount of bail is linked to what is needed to guarantee that the accused will be present to stand trial and submit to sentencing if found guilty.

· Bail must be set to ensure the government’s goal, but no higher.

· Preventive detention is the process of denying bail when the defendant is charged with very serious felonies and poses a threat to the safety of the community.

Excessive fines

  • Supreme Court has had little to say about this. Addresses the issues in other areas such as equal protection.

Cruel and unusual punishments

· A concern throughout history, related both to torture and barbaric punishment (drawing and quartering, beheading, public dissecting, burning alive, etc.) and to arbitrary and disproportionate punishments.

· Few court cases.

· Although severe penalties may be cruel, they might not be unusual in the constitutional sense because they have been employed in various forms throughout history.

· Interpretation of this has been one of the major points in death penalty cases.

Mitigating and aggravating circumstances must be considered in death