Due process of law is the constitutional guarantee that any legal proceedings brought against a criminal defendant will be fair. It also ensures the defendant will be given reasonable notice of the charges and proceedings and will have an opportunity to be heard in court before being deprived of life, liberty or property.
Any law a criminal defendant is being charged with violating must be reasonable and not applied arbitrarily. A criminal defense attorney is a guarantor that the constitutional rights of any criminal client are protected.
There is substantive due process and procedural due process. The former creates and regulates rights, while procedural due process includes the right to counsel, a speedy trial and to confront witnesses. Criminal defense attorneys also ensure that certain procedures are followed in coherence with constitutional protections.
Examples of Due Process
The first ten amendments to the US Constitution — also known as the Bill of Rights — embody the constitutional guarantees that limit the government’s exercise of power against the individual. Due process rights that apply to criminal defendants include:
• Freedom from self-incrimination
• Right to counsel in criminal prosecutions
• Charges must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt
• Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures
• Right to a public trial
• Right to an impartial jury of your peers
Criminal defense attorneys protect the rights of their clients by filing motions to challenge evidence which was illegally obtained; by not allowing prejudicial or irrelevant evidence to be heard or considered; and by holding the government to its burden of proof.
Skilled attorneys attack the credibility of witnesses and cast doubt on other evidence brought against their clients. Attorneys also demand from the state access to exculpatory evidence and any evidence that will be used against their client so that a viable and reasonable defense can be presented.
This blog is written and published by Laufman & Napolitano, LLC