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Civil Rights

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

 
Every person in the United States – whether or not you are a citizen – is guaranteed certain rights under the United States Constitution.  The rights afforded under the U.S. Constitution apply to all persons investigated for criminal offenses and those formally accused, charged, or convicted of a criminal offense. Violations of a individual’s rights during a criminal investigation or proceeding, can affect the outcome of a criminal case and may result in the suppression of evidence which would otherwise be used to prosecute or convict an individual.   You are also protected under the constitution of the state in which you are investigated or charged.  State rights or rights under a state constitution can vary significantly from those afforded under the federal constitution.  In Pennsylvania, persons investigated or charged with crimes are afforded much broader rights than those investigated or charged under in the federal system.  A state can always afford more rights that those afforded under the federal system, but can never afford one less rights. 

It is vital that if you hire an attorney in a criminal case or investigation – or a civil rights case – that he or she is experienced and knowledgeable about the law and court proceedings that relate to constitutional rights.  Only an experienced attorney will know how to prevail in court when your rights under the constitution are violated.

Right to Remain Silent

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants each and every person the right to refuse to incriminate themselves – the right to remain silent.  You are not required to talk to the police when questioned about a crime. This right applies to you whether you are charged or not charge.  The to remain silent applies to police questioning during a street encounter or a traffic stop.  It applies to questioning at a police station by detectives.  It applies to questioning before a grand jury if you are subpoenaed before a grand jury.   It applies to questioning by FBI agents – or other federal agents – if they show up announced or unannounced at your home or place of work.  It applies to a questioning by a judge before, after or during a grand jury proceeding.  This right is a right that you must assert yourself.  It cannot be asserted by anyone else – not even your attorney.  It is vitally important that you assert this right and not respond to questioning whenever you are being questioned by law enforcement – no matter where it occurs – if there is even a remote risk that law enforcement might arrest you or if there is a remote risk that you might be prosecuted.   Sometimes law enforcement officers will hold people for prolonged periods of time without affording them contact with family or an attorney for purposes of compelling a statement.  It is important to continue to assert your 5th Amendment Right (and your Due Process Rights described below) during a prolonged detention.  If you are detained for a prolonged period of time law enforcement will eventually be required to release you or charge you, but under NO circumstances are you required to give a statement.  I have represented individuals in many motions to suppress statements – in all types of cases including murder cases – and I have been successful in having statements suppressed. 

Due Process

Under the Due Process Clause you must be given the opportunity of a fair trial or to fair procedures and that certain rights (most importantly your freedom) or privileges or property cannot be taken from you except under special circumstances.   These rights apply to persons being investigated and persons formally charged.  You cannot be detained indefinitely without being charged.  You must also be properly advised of your rights if you are being detained and questioned by law enforcement.  If your rights are violated in this regard you may be entitled to the suppression of evidence if you are charged and your case proceeds to court.  If your rights are violated in this regard and you are NOT charged you may be entitled to civil damages for violations of your civil rights.

2nd Amendment: Right to Bear Arms

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.  Under the 2nd Amendment you are permitted to have and carry a properly licensed firearm.  A corollary to this right is the right to use a firearm – even if it is not properly licensed – if you are confronted with deadly force.  If confronted with deadly force, you are permitted to use your firearm and to shoot your attacker.  The right to self defense is very well supported by case law and statutory law in Pennsylvania.  I have represented individuals in over a hundred self defense cases and I have been successful in many.

4th Amendment

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.  If you are subjected to a search of your person, vehicle or home and law enforcement does not have probable cause, evidence recovered may not be permitted to be used in court.  This is known as the “exclusionary rule”.  I have represented individuals in motions to suppress evidence in hundreds of cases and I have been very successful in this regard.

5th Amendment

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.

6th Amendment: Right to Counsel

The Sixth Amendment gives you the right to have counsel before giving any statements or submitting to questioning.  If you are questioned or investigated for a criminal charge or if you are arrested, remember to assert your right to counsel before submitting to questioning.

“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.
14th Amendment.”

Gregory Pagano is a very well equipped attorney and I wouldn't recommend anyone else for the job. Since I've known him he has did everything in his power as to seeing I was cleared of the very serious charges that were bought upon me. I'm glad that God brought Greg into to my life because now I'm able to be a father to my daughter and a chance to being a better man.

- Michael