When you are accused of a crime, you still have rights that are guaranteed by law. The Missouri constitution ensures this protection through the bill of rights which states that in criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the following rights.
The right to appear and defend, in person and by counsel
Any person accused of a crime has the right to the services of an attorney, even if they cannot afford one. Public defenders or private attorneys can offer defense strategies and help you protect your rights. If you are being detained, legal representation is important to ensure your rights are not violated.
The right to demand the nature and cause of the accusation
If you are accused of a crime, you have the right to know what you are being accused of so that you may adequately defend yourself. The charges being brought against you must be communicated in a way that you are able to understand, even if an interpreter is required. Knowing the nature and cause of the accusation allows you to defend yourself, establish an alibi, or in other ways dispute the accusation.
The right to meet the witness face to face
You have the right to confront any accuser or witness face to face after being charged with a crime. This right was intended to prevent you from being convicted without the opportunity to question the witness while they are under oath. Your attorney can cross-examine the witness to assess their credibility and rebut their statements.
The right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury
Any accused person is guaranteed the right to a speedy trial. According to Mo. Revised Statute 545.780, the limit is usually no more than 180 days. The Speedy Trial Act of 1974, trials for federal crimes must commence within 70 days of the date of the indictment. A speedy trial is intended to reduce jail time and minimize the preparation time allotted for the prosecution.