Legal rights are rights that are recognized and enforced by the state. They are equally available to all citizens, who can go to court should they believe their legal rights have been violated. Statutory rights are divided into three main headings: civil rights, which provide every citizen with the opportunity to live a civilized social life. Secondly, economic rights, which provide economic security to citizens and, finally, political rights, which allow citizens to actively participate in the political process. These legal rights are considered fundamental in a democratic state like the US. Here are the five major ones you need to know about:
Freedom of Speech and Expression
This is the most fundamental legal right you need to know. It gives you the power to express yourself and your opinions, which feeds into the basic principles of citizenship and civic responsibility. The only way everyone benefits in a democracy is when there’s a voice. While free speech is the most cherished liberty, it often conflicts with other rights. There are three types of free speech-pure speech, speech-plus, and symbolic speech- each is protected at a different level. This legal right falls under the first amendment.
Freedom of Religion
Religious freedom is another core legal right that the first amendment covers. You have the right to practice and express any religion, or none at all, without government interference. This right also protects you from discrimination based on your religious beliefs in all areas of life, including in the workplace, by a business, at the airport or border crossing, and even in prison.
The 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments provide several significant fundamental rights when you’re dealing with law enforcement or facing criminal charges. What are your fourth amendment rights? Well, this amendment mainly covers freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. It states that searches/seizures should be considered unreasonable if they are conducted without probable cause or a warrant. It also describes what properties it protects and sets requirements for making search warrants legal. While the 4th amendment deals with arrest, searches, and seizures, the 5th and the 6th amendments protect you during the trial. They guarantee speedy and fair proceedings, protect you from self-incrimination and double jeopardy, and give you the right to counsel.
The Right to Be Free From Discrimination
It is illegal for a person, a company, or even the government to intentionally treat you differently based on race, ethnicity, or national origin. This law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, credit, service at a business, as well as in public buildings such as schools.
Liberty and Fairness
Another fundamental right that every citizen has is to enjoy a just and fair legal system. The fourteenth amendment requires the government to provide due process of law before they can take away anyone’s property, liberty, or life. It also requires the state to give equal protection to all its citizens. At its most basic level, the due process includes the right to a fair trial, the right to be heard, the right to put forward evidence, and the right to testify willingly, to name a few.
This is simply a guide and doesn’t encompass all your fundamental legal rights. An experienced attorney should be able to explain other legal rights you need to know and expand on the ones we’ve mentioned.