The term “due process” is commonly known as receiving a fair trial for matters concerning the law, and these matters are usually criminal in nature. However, due process is much more than just what happens inside a courtroom. Due process is a fundamental right of every individual without exception. It is found in America’s Bill of Rights and is also the only command in the American Constitution that is stated twice. In order to put some clarity to the concept of due process, below are descriptive pieces of information that make it what it is.
A legal right which the government must respect
Due process is generally defined as “the legal right of a person that a government must respect before taking away his life, liberty, and property.” In other words, a citizen is entitled to due process before the government decides on his fate, be it financial, physical, or otherwise. Due process is one of those individual entitlements recognized as absolute, fundamental, and universal in modern society.
Basic elements of due process
There are three specific components of due process, namely, the right to a notice of the charges made against you, the opportunity for your side to be heard, and the opportunity to defend yourself. A violation of due process and the rule of law occur when a system or a person overlooks and ignores these three entitlements before convicting someone.
Right to notice of charges
IBJ Criminal Defense Wiki asserts that in order for a person charged with a criminal offense to receive a fair trial, he must be provided with “fair and adequate notice of what charges are being brought against him. Notice should be given in writing, with adequate time for the defense to conduct an independent investigation into the factual foundation of the charges.” This right is grounded in the American Constitution and must be observed strictly by all.
Right to be heard
Judicial courts are to regard all people as equal. A person charged with a criminal offense is assumed innocent until he is proven guilty. Moreover, he has the right to present his side of the story for the participants and/or the jury within a reasonable period of time, before any judgment or conviction is made.
Right to defend himself
Every person accused of a criminal charge has the right to have the assistance of a counsel so that he may defend himself. He can hire one if he can afford it. If he can’t, the government is obligated to provide him with a defense attorney. Moreover, he also has the right to demand for an impartial and competent tribunal. In other words, he needs to feel confident that the judge and jury are without any biases and would judge him fairly and objectively.
If you think about it, due process can actually bring delay in the timely delivery of justice especially to those who are victims of a crime. However, what is essential in the rule of law is to convict someone only if evidence and witness’ accounts prove that he is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. The legal system is what it is to ensure that all individuals are treated equally and fairly without exception.