Although many aspects of criminal law involve civil liberties issues, including the guarantee of rights to criminal suspects and the limitation of police powers provided by the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, the ACLU generally does not provide legal representation in criminal cases. There may be a rare exception to this rule when the crime itself involves a civil liberties matter, such as when the only issue is whether a law is constitutional, e.g. flag burning or prohibitions on leafleting in a public forum.
If a case involves an important or novel civil liberties issue, the ACLU may be interested in filing a “friend of the court” (amicus curiae) brief. Amicus briefs are usually filed in the appellate courts. Defendants should discuss this possibility with their criminal defense attorney and ask the attorney to contact the ACLU with details about the case and what assistance is requested.