A Note From Our Editors: Your State's Laws Might Offer More Protections

States have their own constitutions and statutes, which can provide greater rights for those facing the justice system.

Nolo's Criminal Law Center covers criminal procedure, including topics like search and seizure and self-incrimination, in detail. The federal constitution as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court is the starting point for our coverage of "crim pro."

(This article is about differences in rights and procedures, but crimes, defenses, and consequences also vary between court systems. You can learn much more about crimes at CriminalDefenseLawyer.com.)

Expanded Rights in State Court

Though many critical rights come from the U.S. Constitution and its amendments, states have their own constitutions, statutes, and rules. State law often provides protections that are similar, if not identical, to the those the federal constitution gives. But occasionally state law offers expanded rights.

(Learn about the different court systems in our criminal jurisdiction section.)

It could be, for example, that evidence that would be admissible in court under the federal constitution is inadmissible under state law. Suppose an officer reasonably relying on what turns out to be a faulty warrant seizes evidence; the evidence might be allowed to come in at trial in one state and not in another.

In Federal Court, Too

In fact, the statutes and rules for cases in federal court can also go beyond the U.S. Constitution’s protections. For instance, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Sixth Amendment’s speedy-trial protection doesn’t apply to sentencing delays, there’s a federal rule that requires that judges "impose sentence without unnecessary delay." (Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 32(b)(1).)

Not One Size

Many Nolo articles are general in nature, explaining the prevailing law and how it applies to most situations. Sometimes we discuss potential and actual differences from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But we can't cover all the differences among all the jurisdictions. So keep in mind that the laws, rules, and even practices and customs in your court system might differ from what you read here. And always know that a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can explain what does and doesn't apply to your situation.

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