October 16, 2015By Brian Manchester
While reading the American Bar Association journal today I came across an interesting article on misconceptions about our US Constitution. This got me thinking about our US Constitution and our PA Constitution and other general misconceptions with the law.
The article discussed some general misconceptions like, that fact that most of our rights do not come from the Constitution but from the Bill of Rights which was passed several years after the current US Constitution. The article also touches on the fact that the Bill of Rights actually consisted of seventeen amendments, however only ten of the amendments actually passed to become the Bill of Rights. Additionally the First Amendment was not actually the First Amendment, but ended up being the first because other amendments in front of our current First Amendment were not passed. A few other interesting items mentioned in the article are that the word “democracy” does not appear in the US Constitution, nor does the word “God”. The powers were created by the people for the people, thus the reason why the US Constitution starts by saying “We the People”.
Being that the US Constitution is very important in Criminal Defense I wanted to add a few other interesting facts about not only the US Constitution but also the PA Constitution. Lets start at the beginning the US declared it independent from England by creating the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Pennsylvania created its first constitution on September 28, 1776. The next important document created was not our current US Constitution but Articles of Confederation which went into effect on March 1, 1781. The Articles of Confederation were used until out current US Constitution which was created and modeled after the older Pennsylvania Constitution. The US Constitution was created on May 25, 1787 and put into effect on June 21, 1788. The Bill of Rights was adopted on December 15, 1791.
With the “Bill of Rights” creating the first ten amendments to the Constitution there have been an additional seventeen amendments created, bring the total amount of amendments to date to twenty-seven. Most of our treasured rights that we as American have today come from these 27 Amendments, the right to bear arms, the right to free speech, the right of protection from the government in search and seizures, and many more. These rights are a base line of rights that the states are precluded from going below; states can on their own establish more rights for their citizens. PA is a state that has done just that.
One example of that is in the 4th Amendment protection of freedom from search and seizures; PA’s Constitution increases the protections for its citizens in Article 1 section 8 of the PA Constitution. When arguing search and seizure rights it is imperative that your attorney argues both Constitutions. Cases have been lost because attorneys failed to argue the more protections under the PA Constitution and the Courts have stated that if they had they would have won, however since only the US Constitution was argued the case was decided in the Government’s favor.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you need legal representation you need to contact criminal defense attorneys that are going to know the law inside and out. Here at Manchester and Associates we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At Manchester and Associates, we only practice in criminal defense, thus we understand when people find themselves accused or charged with a crime, and the challenges that each individual case could face in the PA judicial system. With a combined experience of over 65 years, there is almost no situation we have not encountered. For a free consultation we can be contacted toll free at (888) 994-7616.