Defendant’s rights refer to the legal protections provided to an individual accused of a crime. These rights can be granted by state law or by the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution of the United States enshrines several inalienable rights to someone who is accused of a crime. These rights include the right against self-incrimination, the right to representation, the right to a fair and speedy trial, and the right to have their case brought before a jury of their peers.
While all criminal defendants are guaranteed a public defender to represent them, some defendants may choose to represent themselves instead. While technically possible, the court does not look favorably on individuals who self-represent even if the accused is an attorney. This is because in most cases the court will have to slow down significantly in order to accommodate the person advocating for themselves. In almost all cases, it is better to have a zealous third-party advocate for a defendant’s case rather than self-represent.
All defendants have a right to a fair trial. This includes a clear and transparent explanation of the crimes the defendant is accused of, and a transparent sharing of evidence between the defense and prosecution. A defendant has a right to know what evidence is being used against them as well as what witnesses will be brought against them. When a case does go to court, the defendant has a right for it to go quickly and be brought before a jury of the defendant’s peers.
If a defendant feels that their rights have been violated, either during the arrest process or during the trial, this is often grounds for appeal. If the court violated the defendant’s rights and then went on to achieve a guilty verdict, the defendant will likely qualify for a new trial at minimum. This does require an appeals court to agree with the allegations that the defendant’s rights were violated but since defendants’ rights are an enshrined constitutional right, failure to observe them is often a glaring and obvious breach of decorum.