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THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.

20141114

THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.

THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS. The right to due process of law is a principle that applies mostly in criminal judicial system that holds that every person must be accorded all legal rights that are guaranteed to them by the constitution. It also the principle that all persons have a right to a fair trial regardless of the seriousness of the crime committed, race, their status, their sex, gender or religion. In the United States the due process of law refers to how the laws of the land are enforced by institutions that are entrusted with this role for example the police and the judiciary. In a nut shell, during trial every defendant is entitled to fundamental rights such as rights to liberty, life and to property ownership. These rights are guaranteed by the US constitution and thus whoever denies another person of any of them is violates the constitution and therefore is subject to prosecution in a court of law. This term paper is in depth going to discuss about what the right to due process entails. The criminal justice procedure entails the elaboration of the manner in which a person should be handled in court while at the same time equipping the criminal justice system with ways in which it can efficiently collect evidence pertaining to a particular case without violating the rights of the accused person. The whole procedure is guided by a law known as a criminal procedure law that serves as checks and balances between the functions of the government in maintaining law and order and ensuring that human rights are not violated in the process. Though it is necessary for governments to do this, only democratic governments as opposed to authoritarian can manage to do it and even democratic governments cannot exercise this law fully without intruding on human rights especially in societies where maintenance of law and order is emphasized, with the United States being not being exceptional (Ferdico et al Chpt 4). The due process of law or the criminal justice procedure starts when police launches investigation concerning a particular incident or case which may lead to the arrest of the accused individuals or the suspects. From here the suspects are locked up waiting to be charged in a court of law where there case is heard, witnesses are called and evidence is provided and on the basis of sustainability of the amount of evidence provided, the judge recommends the sentence or the punishment for those found guilty. By thus doing, the defendants right to a fair hearing is guaranteed and this ensures that the punishment accorded is not commensurate with the crime committed or in other words the sentence is not unlawful. According to Ferdico et al, (2002) immediately after a crime is committed, the police launches investigations to establish who really has committed the crime and this process involves the questioning of suspects and witnesses, analyzing crime scenes to determine the circumstance that surrounded the crime while at the same time piecing up available evidence, keeping vigilance on suspects to note whether there could be any change in their character and behavior that might act as a lead in their investigations. If investigation is successful in identifying the suspect, an arrest and search warrant are issued to the police where they are arrested and interrogated. Any person who is arrested is entitled to be taken to the court within the shortest time possible as it is stipulated and can be released on bail pending trials. Even though the law is very categorical on its due procedure, violations of this law might occur in the process for example, police might obtain search and arrest warrants without following the right procedure, they might also fail to inform the suspect of their rights as suspects or they may even try to coerce or force them to make false confessions that that obviously may later be used against them. It is for this reason that the US constitution addresses and clearly shows the manner in which activities in each stage should be handled in order to ensure that no breaches would result in a criminal justice system (US constitution Online, 2006). In order to ensure that laws are applied properly and that all legal proceedings instituted against individuals are fair, there is a legal backing which is entrenched in the US constitution. There have been numerous court rulings that were aimed at trying to interpret what this means and a good example of this is the Board of Regents vs. Roth in 1972 which worked to interpret what the Fourteenth Amendment means. Basically this amendment ensures that no one can be deprived of hisher property and his liberty without the due process of law being followed (US constitution Online, 2006). According to this case, it was interpreted that the due process is applicable only if there is recognized property or liberty that is at stake. Another court ruling in respect to the right of due process of the criminal justice system is the Oliver case of 1948 where it was ruled that the defendant is guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment a fundamental right of being informed in no uncertain terms of the nature of the charge leveled against them and the reason why they are being charged. Here the accused person should be provided with an interpreter free of charge incase they do not understand the language used in their trials (Ferdico et al, 2002). Though this provision is entrenched in the constitution, it is understood that violations might result in the process and thus in order to ensure that the right procedure is followed, the court referring to the James vs. Borg ruling asks for detailed information describing to them the charges being pressed against a person. They should be given enough time so that they could prepare for their defense. If the government structures its system such that defendants are forced to plead guilty to charges they have not committed then this is a violation of the due process. As according to the Fifth Amendment of the constitutional no one can be forced to testify against themselves or in other words, everybody is presumed innocent till proven guilty. To this end, police are required to conduct intensive and extensive investigations, enough to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that indeed the defendant committed the said crime (Amnesty International Library, 2002). Still on this Fifth Amendment, the defendant cannot be charged on more than one time on the same crime. It is on this basis that it was argued that the court presumes that the defendant is guilty prior to trials by forcing them to wear prison clothing not mention that this person has also been deprived of their liberty. Trying a defendant while in these clothing may undermine the delivery of justice as it appears to the judge that the person is already guilty and that was why in a case US vs. Stewart it was declared to be unconstitutional except according to the case, the Stahl V. Henderson where the defendant is a prisoner who has committed another crime (Ferdico et al, 2002). According to the sixth constitutional amendment, it is also the right of the accused to seek assistance of the legal counsel and lawyers to represent them if they feel they require one. They are also free to talk to their families, judicial officials and doctors in regard to the case. This helps them to report to institutions responsible incase their human rights are violated during their detention period. This person is also entitled to a fair trial and hearing by an impartial judge and jury. According to the Amnesty International Library (2002), a person cannot be discriminated in a judicial system on the basis of ones race, sex, creed, religion among others neither can media be relied upon as a source of evidence as it can manipulate data leading to biased ruling. The right to a fair trial is also guaranteed by the constitution and entails that one cannot be tried in his or her absence and they must be given a chance to prove their innocence without any interference whatsoever either by themselves or by a lawyer and should this happen the defendant could reclaim this right by appealing for the case to be heard when they are physically present in order to defend themselves against the charges leveled on them. In defense, they have the right to call witnesses in their favor or to examine those testifying against them (Amnesty International Library, 2002). In deed a defender cannot be said to have received a fair trial if he or she is denied their fundamental rights. It is for this reason that the constitution chips in the criminal justice system to ensure that the rights of the accused person are not violated. This is a result of numerous court challenges that have been instituted with an aim of correcting the wrong that had been happening in the criminal justice process. According to the 14th amendment, every defendant has a right to be heard when being tried and be told in clear terms and language the nature of their charges and the reason why they are tried. They are also allowed to consult a lawyer for advice or to represent them in court and it also provides that a person cannot be tried while absent in court and if this happens they have a right to appeal for the trial to be heard while they are present. read more...