Achieving the Best Possible Outcomes in Legal Cases

Lesser-Known Rights of the Accused in Criminal Law

by Maurice Carroll

Under criminal law, the presumption of innocence is perhaps one of the most fundamental rights of an accused person regardless of the type of crime. Although the right might be difficult for the public to stomach in some cases, encroachment on the fundamental right should be resisted at all costs. However, did you also know that most accused persons are unaware that a plethora of rights builds on the presumption of innocence? This article highlights some of the unknown rights of accused persons under criminal law.

Freedom from Self-Incrimination -- When someone is accused of a crime, investigating officers must have enough evidence to warrant arrest. Part of the evidence might come from questioning the accused or monitoring them during investigations. Therefore, investigators must try as much as possible to avoid forcing a confession. For instance, evidence gained from any form of torture — physical, psychological, or emotional — so that the accused can admit guilt is never permissible in court. In some cases, the accused might request to remain silent, and investigators are bound by law to grant them the wish and not pressure them into giving a statement. In a fair judicial system, any evidence obtained from infringing the right must be thrown out of court. Moreover, law enforcement officers must inform the accused of the right when making an arrest. This right protects family members of the accused who should not have to choose between family and their civic obligation.

Equal Fighting Chances -- Any person accused of a crime is always considered the weaker party. It is because a prosecutor has access to many resources, including law enforcement. Thus, accused persons need to be extended a fair chance to fight. A fair judicial system makes it possible by availing the accused a public defender. A public criminal lawyer levels the playing field since it allows the defendant to argue their case procedurally. Informing the accused of the charges they are being accused of is also another way of making the trial process fair. The principle hinges on the fact that one cannot be convicted of charges they do not know. Additionally, through their criminal lawyer, the accused must be given a chance to go through all the evidence a prosecutor will use in court.

Proportionality of Means -- Imagine being under 24/7 surveillance by law enforcement officers only for the evidence collected during the time to be used to charge you for shoplifting. Such disproportionate use of investigative resources is unwarranted in a fair judicial system. In fact, most judges throw minor criminal cases with evidence of exploitation of state tools. A good criminal lawyer always keeps authorities in check and ensures that investigations are proportionate to a crime.

Reach out to a criminal lawyer for more information.