Lesson Plan: Rights of the Accused

The Creation of the Bill of Rights

Christine Blackerby discussed the debate over the addition of a Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution.


The Constitution guarantees certain rights for those individuals accused of a crime. These include rights contained within in the fourth, fifth and sixth amendments of the Constitution. This lesson has students explore the individual Constitutional rights relating to criminal law such as protections from unreasonable searches and seizures, rights to due process under law, fair and public trials and legal counsel. Because this lesson has students viewing clips on their own, this lesson works best with classes with one-to-one devices or classes using a flipped classroom approach.


  • WARM-UP:

    At the beginning of the class have the student brainstorm rights that individuals have when accused of crimes.


    Discuss the students' examples of rights that individuals have when accused of crimes. As a class, view the following video clips explaining the origins of the Bill of Rights and the reasons for its inclusion in the Constitution. Have the students answer the associated questions and review them as a class to identify any misconceptions.

    Video Clip: The Creation of the Bill of Rights (3:34)

    • What was the main concern of the delegates to the Constitution Convention? What rights were originally included in the Constitution?

    • Describe the consideration given to including a Bill of Rights during the Constitutional Convention.

    • Explain the debate over the Bill of Rights between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Describe the views of each group.

    • Explain the Federalists' response to the concerns from states over the lack of Bill of Rights. What was the end result?

    Divide the class into nine groups and assign each group one of the rights listed below. Through a jigsaw activity, students will view their assigned video clips and become experts on this right. They will complete their section of the Rights of the Accused Chart (Google Doc) and present that information to the rest of the class. Students will listen to the information and complete the chart. Address any misconceptions that students might have as they are presenting the information.

    On the chart, the students will summarize each of the following rights of the accused found in the Constitution. They will also answer the following questions: What are the current and historical issues relating to this right? Identify and define key vocabulary relating to this right.

    HANDOUT: Rights of the Accused Chart (Google Doc)


  • APPLICATION: Have the students use the information from the video clips to answer the following prompt. This prompt can be a written response or a class discussion.

    • Evaluate how successful the Constitution has been in protecting the rights of people accused of crimes. Use the following guiding questions to structure your response.
    • Do the Constitutional rights go far enough to protect those accused of crimes?
    • Is the language found in the Constitution clear enough to protect individuals?
    • Are additional rights needed to successfully protect people accused of crimes?
  • CONCLUSION: As an exit slip, have the students answer the following question:

    • Is the Bill of Rights necessary to protect the rights of the accused?

    Research an Issue- Choose one of the Constitutional rights included in the lesson. Research a current event or issue that relates to this right. Provide the following:

    • Summary of the issue/current event
    • Explanation of different perspectives surrounding this issue
    • Your opinion/reaction to this issue/current event

    Movie/TV Review- Choose one of the rights included in this lesson. Find a fictional television show episode or movie that relates to this right. Write a review of the show/movie that does the following:

    • Summarize the plot of the episode or movie.
    • Explain how your chosen right relates to the plot of the movie.
    • Evaluate if the right was properly used in the show or movie.

    • How do these Constitutional rights impact how police and prosecutor do their jobs?
    • Which Constitutional right is the most important to people accused of crimes?
    • Which Constitutional right of the accused is the least important?
    • Choose three Constitutional rights mentioned in the lesson and explain how they are related to each other.

Additional Resources


  • Accusation
  • Bill Of Rights
  • Constitution
  • Criminal Law
  • Cross-examine
  • Double Jeopardy
  • Due Process Of Law
  • Expedite
  • Fifth Amendment
  • Fourth Amendment
  • Grand Jury
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Hate Crime
  • Immunity
  • Impartial Jury
  • Indictment
  • Legal Counsel
  • Privacy
  • Probable Cause
  • Search And Seizure
  • Self-incrimination
  • Testimony
  • Warrant
  • Witness


Constitutional FoundationCriminal Law & Justice


Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity