Your constitutional rights as a noncitizen

You may be under the impression that constitutional rights only apply to U.S. citizens. Perhaps you have heard something to that effect from government officials at the state level in South Carolina or higher up. However, we at Kappel Law inform you that this is not true. Even if you are not a citizen, you have certain rights under the United States Constitution.

Not only do you have constitutional rights, but some of them apply if you are ever subject to an arrest. PBS NewsHour explains some of the protections and considerations you should expect to receive in the event of an encounter with law enforcement.

Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures

Authorities must either obtain a warrant or be able to show good reason to think that you have committed a crime before conducting a search or making an arrest. This is true regardless of whether or not you are a citizen.

Fifth Amendment right to due process

Due process means that the government and the court must act according to fair procedures before depriving you of your liberty or your property. Such procedures include a timely court appearance, the opportunity to question your accusers, etc.

Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel

A 1963 Supreme Court decision established that anyone charged with a felony and lacking the ability to pay for an attorney has a right to free legal representation at the government’s expense. The decision made no distinction between the rights of citizens and noncitizens in this regard. However, the law does not apply to misdemeanors.

Sometimes it seems as though there is one set of rules for citizens and one set for noncitizens. However, these Amendments to the Constitution certainly apply equally to each. More information about criminal defense for noncitizens is available on our website.