At SCB our criminal defense lawyers include five former senior prosecutors. These attorneys now provide our clients with powerful defense representation against a wide range of offenses, from misdemeanors such as DUI/DWI to felonies including robbery and homicide. We represent clients in all levels of state and federal trial and appellate courts in Maryland.
The Right to Counsel
The right to legal counsel is a fundamental right of criminal defendants under the U.S. Constitution. Many state constitutions also include this right, and some states provide broader rights to counsel than the federal constitution does. However, state defendants are still entitled to lawyers in certain scenarios, even if their state constitutions do not provide such rights, under the federal constitution via the 14th Amendment.
The basic constitutional rights of the criminal defendant permeate almost every aspect of the criminal-justice process. If you have been accused of a crime, whether federal, state, tribal or local, a criminal defense attorney from Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, can explain these rights to you and help you to fight for them at every step of the way.
Here are the main federal constitutional rights guaranteed to criminal defendants in the United States to promote fair trials. Remember that these rights have been refined and interpreted by the courts, and a lawyer can advise you about each right’s role in and application to your particular case.
- The right to due process of law
- The right to equal protection under the law
- The right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure
- The right against self-incrimination or being forced to testify against oneself
- The right against double jeopardy or being tried more than once for the same offense
- The right to legal counsel
- The right to a speedy, public trial
- The right to an impartial jury trial
- The right to confront witnesses against you
- The right to call supporting witnesses
- The right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment
- The prohibition against ex post facto laws or laws that retroactively criminalize certain acts or retroactively increase criminal sanctions
- The right to be free from excessive fines or excessive bail
- The right to clear notice of criminal charges
- The right to a grand jury in federal felony proceedings
Finding a Job After a Criminal Conviction
If you have been convicted of a crime, you may wonder if you will be able to find employment. Employers are becoming increasingly concerned about knowing whether applicants have criminal records. Part of this fear stems from large jury verdicts that have been rendered against employers for negligently hiring people with criminal histories who subsequently caused harm to others while on the job. Another worry for employers relates to whether they will have to disclose employees’ criminal convictions to others. For example, if a company is trying to raise capital, it may need to make certain disclosures to a bank. Will the company have to disclose that an employee has a criminal conviction for embezzlement or money laundering?
The laws about which criminal records an employer must or may access, what an employer may ask a potential employee about his or her criminal record and what the job applicant must reveal vary widely from state to state. If you have a criminal record and are looking for a job, an attorney knowledgeable in criminal law at Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, can help ensure that you go into the job search fully informed of your rights.
Conflicting Public Policies
On the one hand, the public wants to reintegrate into society — rehabilitated and gainfully employed — people with criminal histories. A routine schedule and regular income lessen the likelihood that a person will commit another crime in the future, but a person with a criminal record may face prejudice in the hiring process. On the other hand, it is important to protect the public from prior offenders who may have propensities to commit crimes in the future. For example, convicted sex offenders should not be hired for jobs in which they will be in contact with children or vulnerable adults.
How Much To Reveal
Depending on the state, an applicant may not have to reveal any or only some types of potentially damaging information, such as arrests not resulting in convictions or convictions for minor matters. Some states have procedures to judicially “erase” a criminal record. A criminal defense attorney can help determine whether you may be eligible to get a conviction sealed, expunged or otherwise legally minimized.
- Be honest. Employers are interested in employees they can trust, and almost all information on job applications can be checked and verified. Even if it may close the door to certain positions, telling the truth is the best way to get a job that the applicant can keep over the long haul. Remember, in some states not all convictions must be revealed nor can potential employers ask for certain information.
- Seek employment with someone you already know. Start the job search with family, friends and acquaintances that may be more likely to take a chance on hiring someone they know, despite a criminal record.
- Do not expect the first job after a conviction to be your ideal job. It is more important to get started somewhere and create a new track record, since employers know that a good indicator of future job performance is past job performance. Consider temporary or entry-level positions to build your resumé.
- Understand where the employer is coming from. An employer has to balance its legal and ethical obligations to you, to its employees and to the public.
- Investigate employment services. Most states have public agencies that administer programs to help people find employment, sometimes specifically designed for those with criminal histories.
- Refrain from alcohol and drug use. Because some employers require employee drug testing, it is best to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
- Consider the nature of your past offense. Apply for jobs where that kind of offense is less likely to be an issue of concern.