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Will I Be Deposed in a Delaware Criminal Case?


If you recall from civics classes in school and possibly in your professional life, your constitutional rights are among the most important protections in a criminal case. One that arises often is the right against self-incrimination. The Delaware Constitution Bill of Rights, which parallels the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, states that no one facing criminal charges shall be compelled to give evidence against themselves. In a familiar scenario, a person may plead the Fifth when being questioned by police in an interview or while on the witness stand in court.

However, your right against self-incrimination is also an issue during the discovery phase of a criminal case, in which the prosecutor and defense attorney exchange information that is relevant to the proceedings. Since depositions are a big part of discovery, you might have concerns about how the Fifth Amendment applies. Your Wilmington criminal defense lawyer can provide details on what happens with depositions, and the following facts are useful.

 Your Rights Against Self-Incrimination: The Fifth Amendment bars government from compelling a person to be a witness against himself, while Delaware’s Constitution prohibits forcing someone to give evidence against themselves. These provisions amount to the same concept: The government cannot force a person to provide facts that would be self-incriminatory. The protection applies during encounters with police, in court, and during pretrial.

Discovery occurs in the pretrial stages, and it supplements the mandatory disclosures that the prosecutor must provide. Additional information may be obtained through written discovery and depositions. For instance, you may receive a list of witnesses that will testify at trial. Then, your defense lawyer would seek to depose that person to find out what they would say on the witness stand.

The Fifth Amendment prevents the prosecutor from doing the same to you. The government cannot call you to attend a deposition because your statements could constitute evidence against yourself. The only reason you might be deposed is if it would support the strategy of your defense attorney, who will fully prepare you for the proceeding.

Other Important Constitutional Rights: The US and Delaware Constitutions also include numerous provisions along with the right against self-incrimination. These are also essential rights to keep in mind from the moment you are being investigated or arrested:

  • Police cannot conduct unlawful search or seizure without a warrant under the Fourth Amendment.
  • You have the right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury.
  • Under the Sixth Amendment, you are entitled to assistance of counsel for your defense.
  • Defendants have the right to confront accusers and other witnesses who are providing testimony in the case.

Talk to a Wilmington, DE Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Rights

Your civil right against self-incrimination and other constitutional rights protect you from overreach by the government in a criminal case. Attorney Michael W. Modica will enforce your rights throughout the criminal process, so please contact to set up a consultation. Individuals in New Castle County and throughout Delaware can reach our offices by calling 302.600.1262 or visiting us online.



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