The Bill of Rights—the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1791—are designed to protect individual civil liberties from government oppression and arbitrary prosecution. They include 28 specific rights, of which 16 concern criminal justice. The framers understood that procedural limits on the state's power to enforce criminal law are necessary to protect the “Blessings of Liberty.” The Bill of Rights was grounded in British liberties that had evolved since the 12th century, including trial by a local jury, the ...

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