Rights of the Accused Essay

Submitted By aebarbee
Words: 1235
Pages: 5

Abstract Due process may be one of the most important rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution of the United States of America. We will look at what due process is; explain how it protects the citizens of the United States, and how it helps the accused to receive a fair trial. We will talk about the origins of this right, and how some people feel it goes too far in protecting the citizens by limiting the power of the police.

First let’s define due process. A course of legal proceedings according to rules and principles that have been established in a system of jurisprudence for the enforcement and protection of private rights. In each case, due process contemplates an exercise of the powers of government as the law permits and sanctions, under recognized safeguards for the protection of individual rights (Britannica.com, 2012). The recognized safeguards in this definition are the rights of the citizens guaranteed to us by the Constitution. The framers felt strongly enough about this to include due process protections in some of the amendments in the bill of rights. The Fifth Amendment grants us the right to due process of law, a ban on double jeopardy, and a right not to testify against yourself (Wilson, 2009). The Sixth Amendment provides a right to trial that is speedy, public. Impartial, and fair(right to know the charges, confront ones accuser, call witnesses, and have help from a lawyer) (Wilson, 2009). Another protection for due process comes from the Fourteenth Amendment. Aimed mainly at protecting former slaves and their families from unfair prosecution, the amendment provided additional protections for all citizens. The so called reconstruction amendment prohibited the states from depriving any person of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” and from denying anyone within a states jurisdiction equal protection under the law (Britannica.com, 2012). Due process had its beginnings long before the constitution for the United States was written. It can be traced back to the Magna Carta signed on June 15 1215. Magna Carta in Latin means great charter. The charter consisted of a preamble and 63 clauses that had little impact outside of 13 century England. The document was remarkable in that it implied that there were laws that the king was bound to observe. Of greatest interest to later generations was clause 39, which stated that “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or dispossessed or outlawed or exiled in any way victimized …except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land (Magna Carta sealed. , 2012) This is an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus. Both of which are also guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. But how does due process protect the accused against abuses by the government? The Government has the duty to punish those who violate the rights of others by violating the laws of the country. But the Government also must insure that no one is falsely convicted of a crime they did not commit. We also cannot be held indefinitely without being charged with a crime, as sometimes happens in other countries. We have a right to a trail by a jury where we can present our side of the story. A recent example is the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, the man accused of murder in the death of Trayvon is George Zimmerman. The media and most people have already found George Zimmerman guilty, and he has not even had his day in court. If not for the protections afforded him by due process, I think the people would already have executed him, without a trial. If he is guilty I hope he gets the maximum penalty, but we need to hear all the facts of the charges against him in court, and not convict him by a court of public opinion. The due process laws help protect us from mob justice by giving us protection from people falsely accusing us and then convincing others we are guilty without even giving the accused a chance to prove their