Due process is the application of laws in an equal and fair manner to every citizen, particularly those accused of crime. It is characterized by the thinking that, the rights of the accused need to be deliberately protected in whatever investigation of the criminal justice.
Basically, the due process requires that the accused be served in accordance with the law without violating the basic principles of individual rights. Therefore, the accused ought to be given a notice and a chance to be heard as well as defend their rights before a court of law (Roach, 1999).
The Due Process can be traced back to the Magna Carta doctrines in 1215. This doctrine consisted of the rights of a person to be protected against deprivation of their belongings or rights, unless it is by the rightful judgment of their matches or the law of the land.
The Due Process was then further advanced and elaborated in the English Common Law after which it came to be included in the United States’ earlier constitutions that antedated the present day United States constitution (Tribe, 1975).
The laws of the United States are found on the basis that, the suspect is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. In protecting the rights of the accused, a criminal investigation is carried out in a procedural code.
The constitution’s bill of rights protects the rights of the accused. When a person is suspected of crime, they are accorded some rights known as the Miranda rights. If these rights are not adhered to throughout the investigation and trial processes, the suspect will be granted freedom on the basis of those trivialities and not because they are innocent (Hornberger, 2005).
Moreover, the legal system of the United States is that of an Adversarial System which exercises the idea that the accused ought to be considered innocent till proven guilty. According to this system, a judge and jury will seek to find out the truth by attentively hearing opponent attorneys who with vigor, advocate in place of their respective parties through Adversarial Procedure.
Prior to the act of arrest, a lawful investigation may be carried out as the law prohibits unwarranted searches to homes and properties. This provision is catered for under the Fourth Amendment (Hornberger, 2005).
In addition, once the suspect has been taken to custody, their rights are guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment of the constitution. This amendment provides fair ways of trying the accused especially the right to remain silent.
It typically disallows the government to; compel an individual to incriminate themselves, deny an individual Due Process of law, subject an individual to multiple prosecutions or punishments for a single crime, and prosecute in federal court before a grand jury indication. Any violation of these rights might result in vacation or reversal of a conviction upon appeal (Tribe, 1975).
Further, the right to an attorney is provided in the Sixth Amendment. The accused has the right to a speedy trial by an unprejudiced judge. If a defendant requests to consult their attorney, an interrogatory must immediately cease or any statements made subsequently in the absence of the attorney will be declared inadmissible. Finally, the Eighth Amendment prohibits capital punishment. It also advocates against excessive fines and bails imposed on the accused. Additionally, it disputes the death penalty (Roach, 1999).
The rights of the accused are also protected in other sections of the constitution, for instance, article one, section nine of the constitution which expects a judge to assess whether there are adequate grounds for holding one in jail. Nevertheless, the all-inclusive protections are found in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments.
Hornberger, J. (2005, June 22). The Bill of Rights: The Rights of the Accused. Retrieved April 25, 2012, from Freedom Daily: http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0502a.asp
Roach, K. (1999). Due Process and Victims’ Rights: The New Law and Politics of Criminal Justice. University of Toronto Press.
Tribe, L. (1975). Structural Due Process. HeinOnline , 269-276.