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Violation of Constitutional Rights in Virginia

THE 3 MOST IMPORTANT SECTIONS OF VIRGINIA’ S BILL OF RIGHTS THAT CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS MUST KNOW

Did you know that no matter whether a person is completely innocent, a case may won or lost by failure to meet a deadline, overlooking a rule of the court, or not complying with one specific instruction from the court? The magnitude of having an attorney – an experienced local Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer – is underscored by the fact that many cases are won or lost on procedural grounds!  The average working man needs an experienced trial lawyer on his side!

Even in a case where the person charged is completely innocent, he or she should take the charge seriously and follow the procedural rules or else risk losing the case.  Due to the constitutionally and case-based nature of the criminal procedure rules, it’s important to have an attorney who has much knowledge of not only Virginia law, but federal constitutional law as well.

What are the fundamental rights found in the Virginia Constitution?

Article I of the Virginia Constitution lays out the Virginia Bill of Rights.  Sections 8, 9, and 10 are of particular importance to criminal defendants and lawyers.  Below is a quick reference guide to help you compare the rights provided by these sections:

Section 8:  If you are charged with a crime, you have the right to:

          demand the cause and nature of the accusation;

          be confronted with the person(s) accusing you;

          present evidence to support your defense;

          a public and speedy trial;

          an impartial jury;

          not be put in “double-jeopardy” for the same offense; and

          not be forced to give evidence

Section 9:  If you are charged with a crime, the State is prohibited from:

          requiring excessive bail;

          issuing cruel and unusual punishment; and

          implementing ex post facto laws

Section 10:  The State is barred from issuing “general” search and seizure warrants. (Your Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer can assess whether your warrant was “general” or not).

If these rights sound familiar, it’s because the Virginia Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights are similar.  But the Commonwealth can grant additional rights beyond those guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.[1]

In the classic Virginia case of Henshaw v. Commonwealth,[2] the court held that Section 8 of the Virginia Constitution does grant a defendant:

a right to view, photograph, and take measurements of the crime scene, provided that the defendant makes a showing that a substantial basis exists for claiming that the proposed inspection and observation will enable the defendant to obtain evidence relevant and material to his defense or to be able to meaningfully defend himself.[3]

 Your Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer has knowledge of this case and many others that spell out your rights as a criminal defendant.  To ensure the prosecution meets its burden of proof for all of the elements related to your charge, call your Virginia Beach Criminal Defense Professional today .


[1] See generally Brennan, “State Constitutions and the Protection of Individual Rights,” 90 Harv. L. Rev. 489 (1977).

[2] Henshaw v. Com., 19 Va. App. 338, 451 (1994).

[3] Brown v. Com., 22 Va. App. 316 (1996).