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Your Rights as a Defendant in Court

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 23 May 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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[Add a Comment]
When I was 17 I had never been stopped by the police before until one day i was arrested for rape that then changed to being charged with sexual touching. I went to crown court the case went on for about 6 months when the jury went to deliberate they came back within 30 minuites with a unanimous NOT GUILTY. Will this be on my criminal record?
Mrnot guilty - 23-May-17 @ 5:14 PM
Jane - Your Question:
I was involved with a married man whose wife found out about us. To cut a long story short, I went above and beyond what any friend/ bit on the side would do in order to help save his marriage and he threw everything I did for him back in my face by meeting up with a woman from a swinging website and I since discovered he has been meeting other woman off this website so I told him I was going to tell his wife that we carried on seeing each other after we both promised we wouldn't and I was also going to tell her about him sleeping with random women off the internet. He also has a 9 year old son from his previous marriage and always preached about what a happier home environment he and his wife can provide for his son than the one his ex wife can provide for him. I have contacted the ex wife to let her know that this happy home environment he claims he can provide is all lies seeing as he cheats on his wife and the wife sent me a text saying she has the stepson on her own all time when the son stays with them (I forward this text to the ex). The ex wife has since stopped the son from spending time with his stepmother on his own as she feels when he's at his dads, he should be spending time with his dad and not his step mum. The step mum has contacted a fellow work colleague of mine and also contacted my boss to inform them that I was having a sexual relationship with her husband even though this has nothing to do with my place of work. She has told my boss that she is taking me to court for harrasment as I contacted the ex wife. My reasoning for contacting the ex wife was to inform her that this happier home environment he claims he can give his son, is not the case as he has cheated on his second wife throughout their relationship and even the second wife has admitted that she has her stepson on her own all the time, rather than him spending time with his dad. It was certainly not my intention for the ex wife to stop the son having contact with his step mother. On what grounds does his second wife have to charge me for harrasment? Also, seeing as she has made contact with my place of work and informed people there, surely she has done that with the intention to cause me embarrassment and distress after telling my boss & also asking him to tell me she is taking me to court for harrasment, therefore is there scope for to put a claim of harrasment against her?

Our Response:
It's a long and complex story and you'd be better advised seeking legal help from a professional.
AboutHumanRights - 22-May-17 @ 11:10 AM
My friend was was tagged for 3 months and order to pay court cost 2 years ago.Now rcvd a letter from DPW saying she owes 18000 and it will be taken out of her wages.No mention of this at the court or in any paperwork and two years later comming after her for repayment.Is this allowed
mag - 20-May-17 @ 1:03 AM
I was involved with a married man whose wife found out about us. To cut a long story short, I went above and beyond what any friend/ bit on the side would do in order to help save his marriage and he threw everything I did for him back in my face by meeting up with a woman from a swinging website and I since discovered he has been meeting other woman off this website so i told him I was going to tell his wife that we carried on seeing each other after we both promised we wouldn't and i was also going to tell her about him sleeping with random women off the internet. He also has a 9 year old son from his previous marriage and always preached about what a happier home environment he and his wife can provide for his son than the one his ex wife can provide for him. I have contacted the ex wife to let her know that this happy home environment he claims he can provide is all lies seeing as he cheats on his wife and the wife sent me a text saying she has the stepson on her own all time when the son stays with them (I forward this text to the ex). The ex wife has since stopped the son from spending time with his stepmother on his own as she feels when he's at his dads, he should be spending time with his dad and not his step mum. The step mum has contacted a fellow work colleague of mine and also contacted my boss to inform them that I was having a sexual relationship with her husband even though this has nothing to do with my place of work. She has told my boss that she is taking me to court for harrasment as I contacted the ex wife. My reasoning for contacting the ex wife was to inform her that this happier home environment he claims he can give his son, is not the case as he has cheated on his second wife throughout their relationship and even the second wife has admitted that she has her stepson on her own all the time, rather than him spending time with his dad. It was certainly not my intention for the ex wife to stop the son having contact with his step mother. On what grounds does his second wife have to charge me for harrasment? Also, seeing as she has made contact with my place of work and informed people there, surely she has done that with the intention to cause me embarrassment and distress after telling my boss & also asking him to tell me she is taking me to court for harrasment, therefore is there scope for to put a claim ofharrasment against her?
Jane - 19-May-17 @ 2:26 PM
Hi I am due to be a witness in court this week I am pretty anxious about this as the person that commitedthe crime with assault by battery has gone not guilty on the last hearing... What happens if she goes not guilty again as there is video footage of her doing so at my address, I'm abit confused would she have seen this video footage when she was last in court or will she see it this time in court as obviously witnesses need to turn up ? It's clearly her and I just don't understand why she hasn't gone guilty.. Would she get a worser sentence for going not guilty and then is to be found guilty??
Lee - 15-May-17 @ 5:58 PM
Girly89 - Your Question:
Hi I hope you can help me, My parter was convicted of conspiracy to supply class b and was sentenced to 6 years after being on trial. He has applied to appeal and I cannot seem to find an answer to this question. If the court accepted the appeal and the case went to retrial (which I would expect it to) if he was found guilty again would he have to re-start his sentence? Or would the court take into consideration how much time he has already done and deduct this from a sentence they may give him? I would be extremely grateful for your help.

Our Response:
The time he has already spent in custody will be taken into account and form part of the sentence.
AboutHumanRights - 11-May-17 @ 11:30 AM
Hi I hope you can help me, My parter was convicted of conspiracy to supply class b and was sentenced to 6 years after being on trial. He has applied to appeal and I cannot seem to find an answer to this question. If the court accepted the appeal and the case went to retrial (which I would expect it to) if he was found guilty again would he have to re-start his sentence? Or would the court take into consideration how much time he has already done and deduct this from a sentence they may give him? I would be extremely grateful for your help.
Girly89 - 8-May-17 @ 10:51 PM
Hi my wife pleaded guilty and was convicted of animal suffering in February she went to prison and was banned from keeping animals for life (section 34 ) although the offence was against horses, she appealed the lifetime ban for All Animals but lost that, 3 days later RSPCA turned up to take my dogs, under what I asked them, under section 35, I said we only know about section 34, court hsvnt sent anything else just the 34, I let them take my dogs, I rang the court and solicitors my solicitor hadn't received a 35 and court said there wasn't anything else but the 34 then said oh yes there's an attachment for 35 had well, this affected my rights to appeal the ownership of my dogs not my wife's at the appeal the courts have said now that there's nothing we can do now , this can't be right to make a relevant appeal I and my wife should have all the 35 has well has the 34 so I could appeal with all the facts how can I appeal against something that we don't know about, I will not give up on my dogs please any advise should we have been sent the 35 along with the 34 before going to appeal thanks lee
Trig - 6-May-17 @ 12:19 PM
Ladytj - Your Question:
My daughter's dad's has just been convicted of child abuse he is innocent and his solicitor didn't represent him properly. Can we request all the evidence from both sides with a view to appealing. We think evidence was suppressed. Are we entitled to see witness statements and police interviewsThank you

Our Response:
Not necessarily. Your solicitor can request these but the police and/or CPS will consider each case on an individual basis.
AboutHumanRights - 4-May-17 @ 10:37 AM
My daughter's dad's has just been convicted of child abuse he is innocent and his solicitor didn't represent him properly. Can we request all the evidence from both sides with a view to appealing. We think evidence was suppressed. Are we entitled to see witness statements and police interviews Thank you
Ladytj - 3-May-17 @ 11:17 AM
Papa smurf - Your Question:
I been charged with sexual assult based on the lasses statement no evidence can I get the case thrown out

Our Response:
When it goes to court, there will be the opportunity to present any evidence etc. When you were interviewed/charged you should have been given the opportunity to speak to a solicitor who should have been able to answer your questions.
AboutHumanRights - 24-Apr-17 @ 11:14 AM
I been charged with sexual assult based on the lasses statement no evidence can I get the case thrown out
Papa smurf - 23-Apr-17 @ 12:42 AM
Tigtaz - Your Question:
How can I see evidence against my 15 year son who has been charged in relation to being at a fight.

Our Response:
Your son's solicitor will be given any evidence to peruse prior to the court hearing.
AboutHumanRights - 12-Apr-17 @ 12:33 PM
How can i see evidence against my 15 year son who has been charged in relation to being at a fight.
Tigtaz - 11-Apr-17 @ 9:12 AM
And I had a warrant on me but I did not know anything about it so as I saw the judge in jail. He was going to leave me behind d bars but I told him my side of the story and he let me sign my self out. I mean seriously how can you steal someones stuff and pawn it all with out her knowing when you live with the person. The money from the pawned stuff went to food and gas for her car... Maybe 10 15 dollars for me for cigs... I do not steal, I would not. I need help here because I don't know what to do. Thank you...
Xwhitefangx30 - 24-Mar-17 @ 7:49 PM
Hello I am being accused of grand larceny 4000. I was living with my ex back in 2016 we would go pawn her stuff together. PS4 hd TV movies games, and it is all in my name. She has the receipt's, but I have witness and my mom talked to her times we went to the pawn shops. So I need advice what do I need to do.. I have qualified for a public defender but I do not know what to say... If I request a preliminary hearing. Can she prove I stole from her just with the receipts?
Xwhitefangx30 - 24-Mar-17 @ 7:45 PM
For many years now social services had continuously attacked us the grandparents with continuous torrential unproven made up allegations, and now had stolen our granddaughter from birth. Our daughter had two marvellous Solicitor & Barrister That had fighted her case in the high court, which had gone well. And even to the eyes of the solicitor and barrister didn't look at all to be going wrong as social services every time had been requested to show evidence by the judge and our solicitor/barrister had been demanded to show evidence, and none had been provided. Even from the beginning our daughter solicitor/barrister had said it was all rubbish what they had written and even the social worker herself had telephoned the solicitor of our daughter to admit that they had no evidence which the judge himself of the high court had seen that their was no evidence and yesterday it should had been the day for the verdict itself but it took over two hours to deliver cthat her baby could not be released, but it was left to be reconsidered and the hammer had not been put down. As I am French I am looking to take the matter into the European criminal court to make sure that our granddaughter get given back to our daughter. As in the first place the solicitor/ barrister of our daughter had all been sure to appeal against the decision of the high court, but now the solicitor after speaking to the judge in private had decided that their might not be any ground to appeal and has to speak to the barrister to see if their is any ground of appeal. We are literally tired of all theses nonesense and want to breach out fully of this corrupt system giving them the right to have the upper hand over all and anybody to just steal a child. Any help of having the doors open to take it further to regain our granddaughter even recommending a non corrupt member of the European to take it to the European court of human right or criminal court as it is a crime to steal a child would be much appreciated, Your sincerely Mrs Simmons
None - 18-Mar-17 @ 10:42 AM
Can the police re interview me about an incident in2013. I've to go to station in a few days toanswer questions again. They will not tell me what it is about. I am very concerned x do not know what to do or say. I've been advised to answer no comment. Help
Maisy - 5-Mar-17 @ 7:07 PM
A friend of mine was found guilty of inappropriately touching a minor(15years old) the case has been on going for many years. The thing that worries me is that there has been NO evidence. Only her first statement with the police years ago. She has changed the story 5 times in the last year leading up to the trial. It started off as a accidental breast touch from walking past each other to touching her more and also asking to take photos of her. There has been no evidence to back this up only her word. A relative of hers testified on my friends behalf as the girl openly admitted in front of people that the accusation was a lie and it's pay back to my friend for refusing to buy her a expensive item of clothing! She also gave names of people who had so called witnessed these inappropriate moments however known of them said they saw or heard anything only after she told them what happened. The jurors were equally divided 6/6 on finding him inncocent or guilty and the judge said he would take a 10/2 decision and they changed there mind to guilty. The only evidence they had was of her statement and it's frustrating because I thought they would need more evidence than relying on her word when 2 years previous to this trial she had falsely accused someone else for the same thing. The court has also told my friend that he can not appeal the decision due to the nature of the case? I just need to know if I'm the only one who thinks something's not right about the whole thing. Some advise would be great. Thank you!
Nayox - 17-Feb-17 @ 7:12 PM
A friend of mine was found guilty of inappropriately touching a minor(15years old) the case has been on going for many years. The thing that worries me is that there has been NO evidence. Only her first statement with the police years ago. She has changed the story 5 times in the last year leading up to the trial. It started off as a accidental breast touch from walking past each other to touching her more and also asking to take photos of her. There has been no evidence to back this up only her word. A relative of hers testified on my friends behalf as the girl openly admitted in front of people that the accusation was a lie and it's pay back to my friend for refusing to buy her a expensive item of clothing! She also gave names of people who had so called witnessed these inappropriate moments however known of them said they saw or heard anything only after she told them what happened. The jurors were equally divided 6/6 on finding him inncocent or guilty and the judge said he would take a 10/2 decision and they changed there mind to guilty. The only evidence they had was of her statement and it's frustrating because I thought they would need more evidence than relying on her word when 2 years previous to this trial she had falsely accused someone else for the same thing. The court has also told my friend that he can not appeal the decision due to the nature of the case? I just need to know if I'm the only one who thinks something's not right about the whole thing. Some advise would be great. Thank you!
Nayox - 17-Feb-17 @ 7:07 PM
Hi I have being arrested a crime and I have being interview for it but I didn't say a nothing as I didn't know about it I have being arrested again and again as police said they had a evidence which I have being bailedI have beingon Bail over 6 month Please what can I do I have being charge or nothing and the day I'm goin back to police will be 9 months
Nootaayo - 28-Jan-17 @ 5:10 AM
I attended a wedding that we were invited too didn't know the bride just the groom. We had a great night lots of wine as my partner & I were leaving the venue I spotted what I thought was a black bin bag with rubbish in, I checked the bag only to realise it had presents in so I picked the bag up -with every intention of keeping it safe and returning itI don't remember much of the night and I genuinely thought we had just got no the taxi and left , waking the next day with a bad hangover & no recollection of the bag ! I was looking for my bag a few hours later and my partner advised me that I might of left the bag in the taxi with the bin bag - I rang the taxi firm no sign of it - I went into panic mode thinking omg I've lost the presents ! The bride messaged me telling me that we had been seen with the bag so I came clean and explained - I rang the taxi firm again no sign of it - the bride advised me in a Facebook message that she wasn't bothered about the presents just needed the one of her nan . Anyway we found the bag a few days later under the stair cupboard with my handbag, we were advised by the bride that the lady who owns the club was charging us with theft from her venue , I gave her my contact details: we returned the bag & its contents to the club - the landlady was not there but we left it with the bar person. I never heard anything for months , then a police called to ask us to go the the police station . It appears that the bride has accused us of taking money from the said bag that she recieved as wedding presents - so now we are going to magistrates court - I'm not quilty of the theft of money as we returned the bag as we found it - any advice would be appreciated
Nixxi - 25-Jan-17 @ 1:32 AM
In 2015 I was accused of theft ov three handbags from my local pubin one night . Four weeks after i was asked to attend the poclice stationvoluntelary for an interview and then released . The bar attandent is who I used to go to school with and was always bullied by him . This bar attendant has given my name to the police and said I was the suspect on the cctv taking the three bags . The bar attandent has informed the women who's bags was took that it was me and ever time we need now in the pub theirsalways conflicts . 15 month later I've had to have a Id parade and have a guess what they have picked me outbut like I said I've had loads ov confrontions with them all . The cctv isn't clear enough to make out that it is me and the cps are just going on the bar attandents statement . Nearly two 2 and a bit years I've just had to go to court regaling this and pleaded not guilty . I've been advised by my solicitor to go to crown court and put my case in front ov a jury . I'm worried because I've got 50/50 custody ov my kids through court and live as a single parent and if I get sentenced I'll lose my council house etc... what should I do
Dazlee - 17-Jan-17 @ 7:08 PM
I was arrested for drivubg under the influence of drugs.I have a tremor which I had not had diagnosed at the time.I asked my solictior to present this evidence to the police doctor. The police doctor did not reply to any correspondence and dos not turn up to court.I am trying to get hold of the doctor now (after being found guilty) but he is not replying to any of my communication.I thought I had the right to cross examine the witness but a care law was quoted in court. Why do I not have the right to question a police doctor but his evidence is still submissionable?
Chris - 12-Jan-17 @ 4:54 PM
Hi I have been convicted of a crime I didn't commit. The conviction was arson with intent to destroy property. The hard only evidence is my DNA on a cigarette used to make a 1 inch burn mark on a doormat. I don't deny the DNA match, but the court didn't help me to obtain evidence that would help my case. I couldn't afford legal aid and had no choice but to defend myself I court. I haven't been sentenced yet and need to know if there is anything like an Alford Plea in England. Where you plead guilty because the proccecution have enough evidence to Prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. But still claim to be innocent. Also should I appeal the majority guilty verdict. Any help would be appreciated
Kes - 12-Jan-17 @ 5:02 AM
I have a petty theft case against me by the place i worked in the state of Florida. I have heard that the case is being talkedabout and even was brought up in a meeting. No names were brought up, but the words were used that "we had to fire a employe do to theft." I'm wondering if that is legalas the case hasn't even gone to court yet and the employeeskeep askingme about it.
D - 11-Jan-17 @ 11:23 PM
One night i was at my grandmas house and noticed that her front door was messed up and she didnt know cause she uses the back door and a week later i was hanging out with a friend and he said he would be right back he went to get some cigarettes. And five minutes later the police are banging on the door with guns in my face (there were six cops and all pointing guns) and asked me where a 380 was and i said i dont know ma'am. And then they asked if i pawned some gold jewelry and i said yes. And come to find out the gold jewelry was stolen from my grandma and i had no idea and I've never even seen a 380 before. The gold my friend gave me and asked if i could pawn it for him and gave me a story about how he works for his grandparents and that they buy and sell rental homes and that he found the bag of gold in one of the rental homes just left behind and the detective told me that i had evoked my fifth amendment because i didnt talk to her but she only asked two questions and i answered them to my best knowledge then past out and went to the hospital for low blood sugar and then i called the detective and as of today i all of a sudden have a felony theft charge and a felony gun charge. I dont know what I'm supposed to do or what i can do im not even twenty years old and this is my first offense and I'm facing a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Tony G. - 22-Dec-16 @ 6:36 PM
Foxy - Your Question:
How do I claim money back after I was found not guilty in south yorkshire

Our Response:
The judge will usually award costs...ask the court what happened in your case.
AboutHumanRights - 21-Dec-16 @ 1:45 PM
How do I claim money back after I was found not guilty in south yorkshire
Foxy - 20-Dec-16 @ 6:13 PM
Jimmy - Your Question:
I have been charged with urinating in a public place , the police have charged me and I have to go to court, I have noticed in the charge sheet they have made a mistake with my address. Will this affect my case

Our Response:
No, this will be dismissed as a typographical error and the case will still proceed.
AboutHumanRights - 20-Dec-16 @ 10:39 AM
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