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Your Rights as a Defendant in Court

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 22 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Crime Court Law Legal Judicial Crimes

As we all know, just because a person is charged with a crime it does not mean that they are guilty. The principle of innocent until proven guilty still holds true and for this very reason the defendant must have rights in court.

The law governing defendant’s rights is in a constant state of flux, new laws are passed to combat increased crime, reduce costs of dispensing justice and fight terrorism just as they are passed to prevent miscarriages of justice.

The inclusion of the European Convention on Human Rights has only served to re-emphasise the importance of a fair trial.

Bail

If you are questioned, but not charged, the Police can release you on bail on the basis that you must come back for further questioning at a later date. If you have been charged they can still release you on bail unless:

  • There is a suspicion that you have not given your correct name and address
  • You are a threat to yourself or others
  • You will abscond

They can also give you conditional bail citing where you must live or a curfew etc.

If the Police have kept you in custody then the Court can decide to give you bail, conditional or otherwise, and they can decide that you needed to be kept in custody if:

  • You will abscond
  • There is a strong possibility you will commit further offences
  • You will threaten or otherwise interfere with witnesses

Representation

The rules and procedures governing the Court system are nothing short of a mystery to the majority of people, no matter how many crime dramas you watch. That is why it is always in your best interest to obtain your own legal representation. There is nothing stopping you defending yourself, in fact you have a right to do so if you wish, but the situation is likely to be emotionally charged, as well as complex, and it may be best to have someone who is not as close to the situation as you are; someone who can guide you through it all with a clear head.

Trial

If you plead not guilty to the charge against you the Court will set a date for your trial. You and your solicitor will then need to make arrangements for any witnesses you need to be available at that time.

When the proceedings start the Prosecution will open the proceedings and set out their case against, stating exactly how they intend to prove you guilty of the crime. You should bear in mind that that ‘Burden of Proof’ is on them, not you. They are required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty. It is not for you to prove that you are innocent.

Once the prosecution has finished setting out their case it then becomes your turn, along with your defence team, to open your case and set out all the ways in which they will prove that you are not guilty. Your witnesses and evidence will be called and only when both teams have spoken will the Jury will be allowed to consider all of the information given to them.

Sentence

If you are found guilty at trial, or if you plead guilty at the outset, the Court must then decide on a suitable sentence. They are required to take account of all mitigating factors, not just look at the crime itself. The options available to the Court range from Compensation orders to full custodial sentences.

European Convention on Human Rights

Article 6 of the Convention clearly states that, irrespective of your supposed crime, you have the right to a fair trial. Included in the convention is the right to a public hearing along:
  • Time to gather your evidence
  • The right to defend yourself, or have Counsel provided for you at no cost
  • The right to cross-examine the witnesses against you
  • The right to have a free interpreter

In Summary

Many of the rights in the Convention where already in existence in this Country but the Convention has re-affirmed one of the most basic tenets of our legal system; fairness and justice for all.

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Hi , I'm currently awaiting a sentence from a court where an ex accused me of section 2 assault there was no evidence in the case but judge said my ex's story was more believable.. I do have minor offenses that are 6 and a half years ago with a suspended sentence.The judge said I will go to prison in Dec. He refused to give me a fine or community service or a suspended sentence just said I was getting a costodual sentence... How can this be right when there was no evidence and my barrister said it was hear say between two parties and no witnesses but judge took woman's side
Gaz - 22-Nov-17 @ 11:39 PM
xstacey- Your Question:
My son is currently on conditional bail (11pm - 06:00) awaiting trial on the 29th May.My son has pleaded not guilty and at his plea hearing the judge made us aware that there were some deadline dates that he needed to be aware of, the first date was the 6th November which is when the prosecution had to provide him with the evidence for the case, this date has passed and my son has been contacting his solicitor to no avail.I have emailed his solicitor to see what happens next , but I am getting nowhere. Surely there must be a consequence for the evidence not being submitted in time

Our Response:
It sounds like your solicitor is not being very proactive. Is it possible to contact the courts and let them know that you have not yet received it. A judge can throw out a case if the prosecution does not provide evidence atappropriate times.
AboutHumanRights - 13-Nov-17 @ 11:58 AM
My son is currently on conditional bail (11pm - 06:00) awaiting trial on the 29th May. My son has pleaded not guilty and at his plea hearing the judge made us aware that there were some deadline dates that he needed to be aware of, the first date was the 6th November which is when the prosecution had to provide him with the evidence for the case, this date has passed and my son has been contacting his solicitor to no avail. I have emailed his solicitor to see what happens next , but I am getting nowhere. Surely there must be a consequence for the evidence not being submitted in time
xstacey - 10-Nov-17 @ 11:21 AM
Im seeking advice with no clue what I can or cant do.. back in june 2017 I was arrested being the driver of an event I had no clue happened in till I was arrested and told this,, i then spent 5 days in prison waiting to get bail,, I was let out on curfew 7 till 7 and a bail address ( unable to have my children where im stay) im going not guily all the way and awiting trail by jury,, Iv been to court 5times since june 2017 with my notguily plea,, i was awaiting to be sentced on another matter in july 2017 and pleaded guilty on the charges and got sentenced to four months home detention.. on the 10th november I get off home.detention and my curfew and address (for my not guily plea) will be back in place but I found out today I dont go to trail till may 21st 2018 !!! Is ths right to be on curfew for a year?? Im no threat to the victims,, iv always turned up to court and iv stuck to all the conditions and ill prove im innocent but this is dragging out more than need too.. And who do i talk with to change my address ??
Learntalesson1 - 26-Oct-17 @ 7:25 AM
Hi I'm being charged with dangerous driving. I was given no paper work when leaving the police station where I was taken into custody. I was stupid and very drunk and rather than stopping for the police decided to try and get away. I was involved in a police chase that lasts about 10 minutes. Nobody was hurt but I did drive at excessive speeds. And was brought to a forced stop. Once that happened I instantly gave up and can be seen on the dash cam evidence holding my hands up pleading for an officer not to smash my car window which was ignored. I was then dragged out of the car and beaten and stamped on several times and am still suffering from the injuries. The police have obviously Co ordinated thier statements to say I resisted arrest and are trying to charge me with that offence however also charging me with failure to stop. I'm pretty confident the evidence shows I did not resist once my car was brought to a stop and think that charge will be dropped by the time it comes to court.Very scared of going to prison as I have a 19 moth old daughter and both she and my partner will loose our home without my income. The police have also coordinated thier statements to say I was clearly on drugs which I wasn't. I did however apparently refuse a sample although I have no recollection of being asked for this. I did however take exception to my treatment once removed from the car and can remember being verbally abusive to some of the officers involved in my arrest. Sorry I've rambled but how can I be charged for failing to stop and resisting arrest at the same time if I didn't fight the police off once the car is stopped. Am I right in thinking that atleast one of the charges should be dropped. I am a first time offender aside from a caution for possession of canabis when in my teens does anybody know the likely outcome. Please helpgoing out my head waiting for the summons and am sincerely sorry for putting the public at risk if I could take it back I would
Silly driver - 23-Oct-17 @ 8:33 PM
I'm due to appear in court as a witness. My partner at the time had been having some mental health issues due to the loss of his sister and refused the police entry into the house anyway he offered me to leave the property in front of the police with the window open but I had said no I didn't want too leave. His solicitor phoned me to go over my statement which on hearing it I'm appalled at the stuff in it and have basically asked him to get my proper signed statement. Do I still have to go to court on the fact that my whole statement has been typed out way over the top I actually thought we were supposed to have faith in the police?
Lacey - 14-Oct-17 @ 10:29 PM
He has a past for violence. .. He's currently on bail. .
Sall - 11-Oct-17 @ 1:00 PM
My ex has been charged on gbh. . I was badly bashed my children witnesses it. .Do they cross exam children age14
Sall - 11-Oct-17 @ 12:56 PM
My son in jail he been chsrged suffers from depresdion he got bail first time by migrates now went crown he dident now saying he need medical euidence get him bail got no criminal record he case not up till feb can keep him in not guiltey he said wat can we do out my mind
Ang - 9-Oct-17 @ 11:24 PM
I went to court a few years ago and was convicted of a minor crime that gave me a criminal record. I pleaded not guilty and was convicted by the court that day.I now understand that I should have been given a right to a trial having pleaded not guilty. I have obtained the audio and if is clear I pleaded not guilty. Can I file an appeal several years later and can I use for breach of human rights?
Fighter - 16-Sep-17 @ 3:18 PM
Hi I was sentenced for fraudulently claiming VAT and sentenced to prison. The judge didn't put and poca against me or confiscation order. When i was sentenced the judge ssid i didnt have to pay costs or compensation. But since getting out of prison the HMRC are now saying that I owe them the money I took they won't listen. They have tried the bankruptcy threat that's been stopped now they are threatening county court action.I've got the tea scripts from the courts and I'm sending them to HMRC for them to read. Not sure if anyone has had a similar experience and what the outcome was Would be most grateful for some feed back. Just want to know if I need to pay this money or if the judge didn't make me pay it back at the trail by saying I didn't have to pay compensation that they can chase me for the money or not That is Kev
Nam - 15-Sep-17 @ 6:10 PM
Wos - Your Question:
I am due to go to court accused wrongly of domestic violence, by a disgruntled baby mother trying to take over my house and finance, as her status was based on the fact that she has a child for me. We are not married neither did we have a joint ownership of anything other than the kids who are less than 3 years of age she has made up the story of abuse and now am due to go to court. I know I am not guilty and pleaded as so,plus there's no evidence to show other than her words. As the relationship as broken down she's been looking for ways to take over my flat. Even though I've not been in my house for 4 months I still pay the rent as it is in my name. My question is that would I loose my home to this woman after all said and done. Thanks

Our Response:
This depends on what the court decides really. You might want to consider seeking some professional advice from someone to whom you can give all the relevant information.
AboutHumanRights - 11-Sep-17 @ 2:02 PM
I am due to go to court accused wrongly of domestic violence, by a disgruntled baby mother trying to take over my house and finance, as her status was based on the fact that she has a child for me. We are not married neither did we have a joint ownership of anything other than the kids who are less than 3 years of age she has made up the story of abuse and now am due to go to court. I know I am not guilty and pleaded as so,plus there's no evidence to show other than her words. As the relationship as broken down she's been looking for ways to take over my flat. Even though I've not been in my house for 4 months I still pay the rent as it is in my name. My question is that would I loose my home to this woman after all said and done. Thanks
Wos - 9-Sep-17 @ 2:44 PM
I am in Crown Court tomorrow charge with my first offensive of GBH. I have no previous and this charge came about due to self defence. I am not guilty but i'm considering pleading guilty to avoid a custodial sentence. My solicitor has said i am looking at 3-5 years if found guilty!!!!! The CPS case is based on 'a suspected fracture' and so far there has been no medical evidence! I believe that my solicitor is not doing enough to help and I am extremely worrie that i will be misrepresented in court! Is it possible to change my solicitor if i feel they aren't doing their job properly during trial? Maybe an adjournment to find new legal representation. If so how would i do this? Thank you
LarryDaHat - 6-Sep-17 @ 9:01 PM
doglady - Your Question:
Hi - Im desperate for some advice. My dogs have been refused to be given back to me by an ex friend. After weeks and weeks or digging my heels in with the police this has now turned into a criminal matter and the other party is being considered with theft by the police, pending CPS go ahead. The issue I have is that although they are going down this path they are allowing my dogs to stay with her. I have proven ownership and the police say in the eyes of the law I am the legal owner - so why are they not returning them to me. Can anyone advise me what I can do or what police/human rights act I can read up on so that I can construct yet another email to them to over turn this decision. Thanks

Our Response:
You've not really given enough information for us to comment on this. For example, how did the dogs come to be in the possession of your friend? Did you report them stolen at the time? If so the police can recover them as stolen property and return them to you.
AboutHumanRights - 5-Sep-17 @ 2:04 PM
Hi - Im desperate for some advice. My dogs have been refused to be given back to me by an ex friend. After weeks and weeks or digging my heels in with the police this has now turned into a criminal matter and the other party is being considered with theft by the police, pending CPS go ahead. The issue i have is that although they are going down this path they are allowing my dogs to stay with her. I have proven ownership and the police say in the eyes of the law i am the legal owner - so why are they not returning them to me. Can anyone advise me what i can do or what police/human rights act i can read up on so that i can construct yet another email to them to over turn this decision. Thanks
doglady - 5-Sep-17 @ 8:29 AM
I want to know if my civil rights were violated? If so, how does one go aboutbringing it to light and doing something about it? I have already contacted the ACLU. Help I NEED HELP! . I was told that they only help groups of people.was accused of child abuse by my 17 year old daughter as a way to stay with her older sister instead of moving out of starts. She got CPS involved and as a result myyoungest daughter was removed from my home. Two months into all this, the GAL told me that she, the prosecutor and the judge were already in favor of terminating my parentalrights. At my adjuratory hearing when I was supposed to be allowed to present my evidence, witnesses and speak on my own behalf, I was NEVER given the opportunity. The judge said that he didn't need to hear anything from my side. Although there was NEVER any investigation done to prove that I had or hadn't abused my daughter. The only thing they used was my daughters testimony, and court papers from my husbandscourt hearing from 6 years prior when he was accused of sexual assaulting my oldest daughter. I had not been with him in 6 years, I left because he was extremely abusive and threatened to kill me, but because I never divorced him, even though I had not had any contact with him in 6 years, the judge assumed that I would go back to him eventually.I wanted to move because I had met someone that lived in another state where I felt that the girls would have a better chance at life with many more opportunities. Where we lived the economy was terrible.I appealed to that states Supreme Court but it was turned down 3/2. I'm not allowed to have any contact with my youngest daughter, even though I've never done anything wrong. If they would have done background checks and an investigation into the family i a now involved with, they know they would have never had a leg to stand on. This family has one member that is a police officer, one works for the school one is a farmer, one is a retired schoolteacher. Now what better environment could one ask for to raise kids in! I have found out since that my youngest is basically raising herself. Please can someone help me and my daughter!
Runt - 1-Sep-17 @ 4:02 PM
My son went to court and pleaded not guilty and had an arraignment and was released on Surety bill which means I paid $1,000 of a $10,000 bill the charges unarmed robbery of a cigarette . My son is very adamant that he is innocent so it gets civil rights involved they subpoena the tapes from the police department and we hear a cop saying cover your mic on your lapel then a frying noise for about 5 or 10 minutes next we hear his supervisor tell him they don't have probable cause cut them loose he pleased with her if I can bring them in I know that I can get something so they take him in and his friend interrogates for 4 hours then bring some home at 5:30 in the morning two weeks later the issue a warrant the victim leaves town and move to Arizona and the middle of proceedings so now we're at a standstill waiting for prosecution to get him back to Grand Rapids unjury pick day they come to my son with a fourth plea bargain but the plea bargain stinks it's will give you a delayed sentence for 10 months if you don't get in any trouble will lower the charges from unarmed robbery to larceny of a building now how corrupt can the law be but my question is he's out on bail and when he doesn't accept the plea for a competency evaluation the prosecution agrees that it should be and the judge agrees by saying yeah I kind of thought when I first seen them there was something wrong and then out of nowhere to shares enter the room and the judge agrees to the competency evaluation but out of nowhere remand him to jail is that lawful to remand him to jail when he's already out on bail and has not violated the bail conditions???
Lynn - 31-Aug-17 @ 3:24 PM
I got abused in front of 7 years old child by his mother. she assaulted me and as a result my cheeck bone cracked. child saw everything and are other wittnesses. whats the posibility that her child will be taken away? she already has a history of assault and was brought to court. as far as I know she wants to move to different country to live. does she has the right to leave country while investigation is going? everything happened in northern ireland
vicky - 30-Aug-17 @ 1:50 PM
I have bail conditions and then went to court where I was found not guilty. What happens to my bail conditions?
Jeezy - 29-Aug-17 @ 10:47 PM
I need advice about my court case , a third party has issused a section 45 of Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (YJCEA)on my crown Court Case . My case doesn't involve children in any way . I was not informed of this order I found out online on a court listing. I don't feel like I'm going to get a fair trial if orders are been made in secret my case isn't even a trial yet. What if can I do about this?. How do I find out who has made this order ? Thank You
Shay - 22-Aug-17 @ 6:35 PM
Cin - Your Question:
Im 19 was found with an 16 underage person minor at a park at night. Someone gave a call to the police that we were having sex. But we weren't their was no one their, the witness dosent have prove of anything. Its just his word against mine. Im going to trial, what are my chances iwont go to jail. Im just scared I dont know what to do.

Our Response:
We can't tell you what your chances are as we don't have all the information. As long as you tell the truth and were genuinely not involved inany sexually related activities, you should be fine. It's worth seeking a consultation with a solicitor though.
AboutHumanRights - 21-Aug-17 @ 1:37 PM
Im 19 was found with an 16 underage person minor at a park at night. Someone gave a call to the police that we were having sex. But we weren't their was no one their, the witness dosent have prove of anything. Its just his word against mine. Im going to trial, what are my chances iwont go to jail. Im just scared i dont know what to do.
Cin - 17-Aug-17 @ 11:33 PM
My partner is being held in custody for 2 offences one being breach of the peace (domestic violence) and also criminal damage this is his first offence for these crimes and he has not been in any trouble for over 10years? Can anyone advise me what the possible outcomes may be if the court accepts my statement of not wanting to take any further action?
Smck - 13-Aug-17 @ 8:46 PM
REX - Your Question:
Can jurors be summoned back after they have been released by judge, if defendants think some of them were bullied to give guilty verdict

Our Response:
If this came to light it's more likely that the case would be referred to the court of appeal.
AboutHumanRights - 7-Aug-17 @ 1:53 PM
Can jurors be summoned back after they have been released by judge, if defendants think some of them were bullied to give guilty verdict
REX - 3-Aug-17 @ 11:40 PM
Gi - Your Question:
My son has been to court and has pleaded not guilty. He has to go on trial in October. The papers have named him before the trial can somebody tell me if this is allowed

Our Response:
Unless reporting restrictions are lifted, details of most court cases/appearances can be published. The papers should/may also have said that he pleaded not guilty.
AboutHumanRights - 2-Aug-17 @ 10:03 AM
My son has been to court and has pleaded not guilty. He has to go on trial in October.The papers have named him before the trial can somebody tell me if this is allowed
Gi - 29-Jul-17 @ 4:37 PM
I admittedplead guilty in crown court and waiting for my sentencehearing in a few weeks timealso I been told I have to have an interview with probationaryofficer about my offence My offence is gamblingonline emptying wife s account without her permission £20k I am now living my own in rental property I have full time job and I never been out of work Will all this be considered by judge giving me community service or fine or jail? I am so scared my barrister and solicitor not giving me any clue but I said to them I can pay her back if judgegives me court order /finepaying back to my wife That is
Memo - 26-Jul-17 @ 7:16 PM
I went to court last week for the first time in my life to defend myself against a civil claim that my friend whom I've known for over 20 years filed upon me saying that I owe him money as he "loaned it" to me for my business venture. However the set up was agreed that I would do all the work and he would be the investor of the project and would be a 50/50 % of ALL profits partner should the deemed investment end up fruitful. Unfortunately it wasn't and thus now claiming it was a loan. The partner I have found out since then has had 50 directorships of various companies and has served time in jail and been convicted of fraud. The court hearing was last week and I lost as the partner created a fully fabricated story for which I feel the judge sided emotionally and not with hard core evidence. I had prepared my evidence and sent a recorded delivery of all documents to the court AND to the claimant as I'm supposed to. But I walked into the court blind as I did not receive the claimants bundle beforehand. The judge had received the claimant bundle and got his FULL understanding of the case based on ONLY the claimants information. How do I know this it's because the court "lost" my recorded the delivery bundle and the judge before starting the trial was asking me where my documents were. To which I showed proof of my recorded delivery and then he asked his usher to go and find it. It couldn't be found and I had to give my bundle to get it photocopied before we start for the judge to have. Obviously not ideal and irritable for the judge as tabs references etc are then hard to find. During this photocopying time I told the judge that I haven't received the the claimants bundled and questioned where it was to which the claimant said "i sent it to your address already" but I didn't send it by recorded delivery. So the judge asked me to use this time to read up on the clamaints chronology which was totally different to what evidence the claimant had previously said he was going to rely on as his case. So I had this whole NEW fabricated story right in front of me for which I'm supposed to defence and for which I hd had ZERO time to prepare for and obviously cannot show evidence otherwise defending the accusations in court. All of my paper work and documentation is supporting emails and loan document for which he said he would be using in court. He misrepresented my signature on a document and presented it to the court with his sob story. Now my question is do I a STRONG RIGHT TO APPEAL as 1) the COURT LOST my bundle 2) The judge has seen NOTHING of mine until I've photocopied it for him in the court room for which he's obviously had no time to red and digest carefully. 3) I did not receive the claimants bundle for which my understanding are the rules 4) so my perspective technically this should have been thrown out from the offset when I said I have not received anything from the claimant. Please reply and let me know as I de
Bumpa - 22-Jun-17 @ 12:53 PM
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