What is “Due Process” and Why Is It Important to You?
One of the most fundamental and important rights that all of us have, “due process” has been in the news a lot recently. NFL players facing suspension or discipline for domestic violence or child abuse assert that there should be “due process” before they lose their jobs or incomes. Government officials, law enforcement, and college administrators are all trying to address the issue of sexual assault on campus, attempting to balance the need to protect victims with the rights of those accused of committing such acts whose education and future hang in the balance.
If you are charged with a crime, all of the rights that protect you, from the right to counsel to the right to remain silent to the right to a jury, all fall under the umbrella of “due process.” It is “due process” that is designed to protect criminal defendants from passion and prejudice and ensure that every individual who faces prosecution by the state has the ability to mount a full and complete defense.
Due process is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution which provides that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” (The Fourteenth Amendment provides the same protection as to actions by the states). Other amendments in the Bill of Rights address specific elements of due process, most importantly the Sixth Amendment, which affords criminal defendants seven specific rights, all of which are essential to protecting our rights and our freedom:
- Right to a speedy trial
- Right to a public trial
- Right to an unbiased tribunal or impartial jury
- Right to full notice and explanation of the charges being brought and the grounds for bringing such charges
- Right to counsel
- Right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses
- Right to have the court compel favorable witnesses to appear
In addition to the foregoing rights set forth in the Sixth Amendment, due process also includes the following:
- Right to receive exculpatory or opposing evidence from prosecutors
- Right to call witnesses and present evidence
- Right to make a record that can be reviewed on appeal
- Right to have decision based solely on the evidence presented
- Right to review or appeal of a judge or jury’s decision
If You Lose Your Rights, You Could Gain Your Freedom
Due process in criminal cases has many facets and nuances, and the ways in which defendants can be deprived of due process are numerous. When any element of due process is missing during a criminal prosecution, the fairness and constitutionality of the state’s attempt to deprive an individual of their freedom has been compromised. A defendant whose due process rights have been violated can challenge the prosecution on those grounds and potentially have the charges thrown out. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the complexities of due process and who will aggressively protect your constitutional rights can be of critical importance when you’ve been charged with a crime.
Mark Diaz – Experienced Houston/Galveston Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced lawyer who focuses exclusively on defending criminal cases and who will aggressively protect your rights. Throughout my career, I have successfully handled every type of criminal defense case. More importantly, criminal defense is the only thing I do. I have witnessed firsthand how a criminal charge can negatively impact every area of a person’s life. As a lawyer, I consider it a privilege to help people during this stressful time in their lives. Call me today at (409) 515-6170 for a free consultation to discuss your case.