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The rights of the accused

Updated on November 30, 2015

How does the United States court system jealously guard the rights of the accused

Fundamental rights, especially those believed to belong to an individual and in whose exercise a government cannot interfere with such as the rights to speak, associate, or work is what is known as human rights, according to dictionary.com. As human beings and citizens of the law, these rights were given to us as a protection from the government. Freedom of Speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition were inclusive in those rights which prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law. With that being said, it is said that the courts in the United States have jealously guarded the rights of the accused persons and the real question is why?

As an individual and law abiding citizen who has never come into contact with any law enforcements, the question of the rights of the accused was a bit foreign to me which led to the query “what is meant by the rights of the accused”? In law, the rights and privileges of the accused guaranteeing him/her a fair trial is defined as the rights of the accused. All legal systems provide certain basic rights of the accused. These rights are inclusive of trial by jury unless jury trial is waived, representation of counsel if accused of a serious crime, to present witness and evidence that allows the defendant to prove his/her innocence, and the rights to confront his/her accusers, along with freedom from unreasonable searches and freedom from double jeopardy which means he/she cannot be tried or convicted of the same crime twice. (Botannica, n.d.)

An individual accused of a crime cannot be held in jail for a long period of time without any justifiable reason or evidence that shows otherwise. With this right comes the option of bail which is given to the defendant to be paid so that he can be released. This cash will then be held by the court until the defendant appears at all of his court cases. Also one of the most important rights guarded by the courts in The United States is the right to counsel. The system in the United States says that the accused has the right to counsel from the time he/she is taken into custody until all appeal is exhausted. If the accused asks for a lawyer then a court appointed lawyer will be assigned to them. The system also states that at the time of the accused arrest he/she must be immediately read their rights along with the right not to answer any question that may be used as evidence against him later on. These rights are read so that a “false” confession or a general confession given to police cannot be used against the defendant in a court of law. (Botannica, n.d.)

Another important rights is freedom from illegal search and seizure. In this right, police cannot illegally barge into your home, unless there is probable cause, without a court granted warrant. In the event of probable cause where there is clear and direct evidence that shows that a crime may have been committed then the law does have the right to proceed, with caution, into your home. Probable cause can in fact justify a warrantless search and seizure. However, if there is no evidence that shows that any sign of a crime has been committed then you have no right to damage the accuses property in any way. The accused also has the right to appeal which allows the defendant, if given jail time for a crime he/she feels they were wrongly convicted of, a chance to state to the courts why they feel as though they deserve a second trial or a review of the crime committed. Some individuals are granted an appeal if there is enough evidence to show some sign of doubt that they may have been wrongly committed. Other individuals on the other hand are denied an appeal on the grounds that the evidence used against them were strong and all fingers points to them from credible witnesses. (Botannica, n.d.)

At the end of the day the rights of the accused are very important because without this protection from the law then it would be fairly easy to arrest someone and convict them of a crime based on the fact that you may think they are guilty by association. It would also lead to an unfair and bias trial based on the grounds of not allowing/wanting the defendant to prove himself as innocent. Also persons of power who may not like you or sees you as a threat can get any of their friends who are corrupt police officers to plant something in your home or car that can be used against you. Even though you are innocent the evidence may say otherwise and if you didn’t have your basic human rights then you’ll be found guilty.

Therefore, we as citizens of the law should aspire to learn our human rights in the event that we are wrongly accused of a crime that we did not commit. Too often we take for granted these rights and because of that we find ourselves in problems that could have been prevented had we taken them seriously. As long as the court system stays the same then those accused will always be given a fair trial with non-bias jury members that will decide whether or not you are innocent.


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