What rights does a person have if they’re being accused of possession and selling by hearsay only?

They have never been caught in the act; no prior trouble or arrests.

Asked on September 7, 2014 under Criminal Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

They have the exact same rights that anyone else who is accused of a crime has: e.g. the right to an attorney, to not self-incriminate (i.e. "to remain silent"), to trial by jury, to confront witnesses at trial (i.e. cross examination), and that to be convicted, they must  be be found guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."

A person can be convicted based on the testimony of others--there is no need to be "caught in the act," and most criminals are not in fact caught in the act. Certainly, being caught while committing a crime makes for a stronger case, as would physical evidence, but the fact that all there is, is the testimony of other people does not prevent him or her from being arrested, charged, or tried--and if the witnesses are credible or believable enought, the person could be convicted.

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