Your State's Laws May Offer More Protections

By , Attorney · Santa Clara University School of Law
Updated 5/10/2024

A Note From Our Editors

This website provides lots of information about criminal procedure, such as the rules about search and seizure, arrests, warrants, self-incrimination, and right to counsel. We base our answers on what the United States Supreme Court, interpreting the federal Constitution, has to say on each subject.

But each state has its own constitution and laws, which may give criminal defendants more rights than are required by Supreme Court rulings. (States can't give fewer rights.) For example, suppose a suspect is arrested without a warrant. Even if the arrest is valid under the Supreme Court rules, it might not be valid under state law, if the state is stricter about requiring warrants for arrests.

The lesson is simply this: What you learn here, when it comes to defendants' rights, is the least you can expect, and you may be better protected if your state has more liberal rules than those from the U.S. Supreme Court. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will be able to advise you whether, for any particular question or issue, your state gives you protections beyond those noted in our articles.

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