Home > Law & Enforcement > Your Rights as a Defendant in Court

Your Rights as a Defendant in Court

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 18 Feb 2018 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Need to help my brot - Your Question:
So my brother is charged with serious Criminal charges. His ex girlfriends daughter (14 year then) made the allegation(sexual assualt). The relationship between them was father and daughter. she used to chat with him many time about many things for many years we talking about 10 years or so. Last year she made the assault allegation which will get my brother in jail for 4-10 years for something he has not done. His phone GPS was at the location as he went to see her with her mum's approval. He does not have a alibi. My brother has been married for about 2 years and we think his ex girlfriend and her daughter did it for revenge. The 14 year old had no evidence, her friend who did not witness - the victim spoke to her on the phone so she becomes the witness. I need ideas that can help him please. Thanks

Our Response:
The British court system is usually fair. This will proceed to court where all the circumstances will be considered and any evidence looked at. The b
AboutHumanRights - 19-Feb-18 @ 10:54 AM
So my brother is charged with serious Criminal charges. His ex girlfriends daughter (14 year then) made the allegation(sexual assualt). The relationship between them was father and daughter. she used to chat with him many time about many things for many years we talking about 10 years or so. Last year she made the assault allegation which will get my brother in jail for 4-10 years for something he has not done. His phone GPS was at the location as he went to see her with her mum's approval. He does not have a alibi. My brother has been married for about 2 years and we think his ex girlfriend and her daughter did it for revenge. The 14 year old had no evidence, her friend who did not witness - the victim spoke to her on the phone so she becomes the witness. I need ideas that can help him please. Thanks
Need to help my brot - 18-Feb-18 @ 8:24 AM
A public school called me to tell me my daughter would not be coming home. I was shocked as my daughter had called me earlier and asked me to pick her up. But I thought it was connected to her detention and told her to come home.The school then claimed that my daughter had made allegations of child abuse. I was shocked through out the whole process as I have a son with disabilities. I then went to the school to get my daughter. As I approached the school I could see an inappropriate adult with my child. Apparently, this distant cousin had claimed to have witnessed abuse and then stated that she haven't seen my family in years.This was a lie as my daughter stayed with this individual for three months so she could complete her stats exams. Whilst my child stayed there this inappropriate adult allowed her husband to punish my daughter with a belt. I instantly removed my child and told her to stay away from my family. Her daughter attended one school whilst mine progressed at her new school.Unfortunately this physco then moved her daughter to my daughter's school. This caused my daughter to complaint to me about her child bullying mine. I told children's services and also the school to not let this parent have any access to my daughters personal data or any information.Local authority have to respect that Family's and it's meaning differ from individual to individuals. I am from an afro carb culture which respects individuality and biblical morals. I am estranged from the inappropriate individual but not before she and the school staged a Children's Act investigation. As I got near to the car that the inappropriate adult was taking my child with out legal consent. the police and the local authority did not give consent or authorise this as the school did not call them.My daughter ran out of the school as the inappropriate adult had threatened her. The police then took my child from my road where we live. In front of my disabled son they took her in there car. Now imagine no police officer contacting the mother of the child they have taken. Then the police decided to keep my daughter from her family placing her back to the place my children and I fleed domestic violence. The emergency Children Services did not contact me at all. The emergency Children Services instead spoke to my aunt who I have no contact with and the inappropriate adult. Isolating my family from my child without a legal explanation. 5 days later my child was returned to the School to be threatened by the inappropriate adult and her dysfunctional child continued to bully her. The teacher who called me is employed and free to give children away before calling the local authorityThe school then tried to blame my daughter the child at Risk for the inappropriate child to call the police with more false allegations. The child at Risk had also been suspended and sanctioned away from her peers My son is not in full time education because
Sunnyanna - 10-Feb-18 @ 11:25 PM
I am writing to you to let you know about the two attempted murder of by my Local borough Officials in complicit with the Police. This came about post the unfair trial of me for an offence of bumb touching of a above middle age woman. And in spite of my denial of having done it, I still was tried, convicted and been subsequently given custodial before being finally put on the register even though I am a terminally ill man. So, it was while I was on the register that the Officer who was supervising demonically went out of his twisted way to collude with the Trust of my area to label me as being mentally ill. For the sole purpose of isolating me to Goodmayes [mental health Hospital] where I was harmed by poisonous injection and subsequently by poisonous pills. And I have been denied diagnosis, let alone treatment, up till now. Please help.?
N/A - 9-Feb-18 @ 6:20 PM
I was Clearly Wrongly Arrested for a public order offence that took place 5 Years Ago I was sat in my vehicle one Night i.e parked up in a town(I WON'T SAY WHICH TOWN FOR SEVERAL REASONS)in Hampshire,England at the side of the road and was about to Drive away and leave when a group of 4 people(Two Women and two men)who where walking by stopped and started directing comments at me they called me a "Sex predator""phedophile"and said"that I was looking up girls skirts"they ALSO SAID TO ME I.E MADE IT CRYSTAL CLEAR TO ME THAT THEY WOULD GET ME ARRESTED FOR SOMETHING"NO MATTER WHAT"a short time later I called one of the women"a Slut"they immediately walked over to a Marked Police Van(With Two Male police officers sat in it that was parked a short distance behind me and started talking to them(so I was pretty certain that they had told these Officers what I had just said to the woman)One of the Police Officers got out of the police van and walked up to my drivers Side Door and said to me that an allegation had been made against me and said a short time later that I was being arrested for"a public order offence"though I was'nt allowed to give my side of the story(because I was sat in the vehicle and the drivers door was shut I did'nt get out)but they soon had it opened and had pulled me out Quite hard I was also sprayed in the face with CS gas by another Male Police officer and then put into the back of the now much closer Marked police Van before being driven to the Police Station that was half a mile away I was then unloaded at the police station and escorted into it protesting loudly(as I knew that I had been wrongfully arrested i.e should'nt be there)my parents where then notified of my arrest and my very irate and angry Mother arrived at the police station not long afterwards a legal representive also arrived(to represent me in the interview)turning up a considerable time later.The police then conducted a official interview with me with two uniformed male police officers present and off course my legal representative and mother close by.It was made CLEAR and CORRECTLY STATED During the interview by my legal representative that The Word I had Used was'nt even a swear word It was a more minor Word and I had ONLY SAID THAT WORD(nor any other word as well like it or Similar)though my legal Representative nor I was given the oppurtunity during the interview to say that I had ONLY USED THE WORD(IN SELF DEFENSE TO DEFEND MYSELF)AFTER I HAD BEEN ON THE RECIEVING END OF PARTICULARLY HORRID COMMENTS DIRECTED AT ME BY THOSE CONCERNED)After the interview had been conducted the police officers then went and discussed with a Much Higher Ranking Officer what should happen next to me i.e weather this Should go to Court or weather I should instead be given just an Official Police Caution as Punishment And Released It was Decided that I should be given a Police Caution and I recieved it(Though I knew that I should Never have recieved it all as I had been wrongf
Ash - 7-Feb-18 @ 1:36 AM
Is Self Defense"a Reasonable Defense"to the Crimes of Assault and Battery?Do I have to wait until some-one attacks/assaults me i.e hits/punches/headbutts me before i can use self defense?or can I strike"the first blow"before they attack/assault me if I feared/believed that I will be physically attacked/assaulted myself??(particularly if the person has done this to me before/previously)Would I be not guilty/Acquitted of these Crimes if this was the case i.e had happened?even if I had caused that person a minor injury i.e cut/wound,bruise,scratch/Mark etc Anywhere on there body??please tell me where i stand with the law at present....................
Ash - 6-Feb-18 @ 11:08 PM
If you plead guilty to pedophilia can you still get charged with no evidence ?
Hiyahiye - 18-Jan-18 @ 7:49 PM
Colette- Your Question:
My partner has magistrates on Monday from hitting a 63 year old with a chair And he had stitches in his head will he go to prison he’s got a bad criminal record

Our Response:
We don't know what a judge will decide we're sorry as we don't know all the circumstances.
AboutHumanRights - 16-Jan-18 @ 9:52 AM
I have court monday, my ex took me to court for criminal damage (ripped up clothing) Does he have fo attend the court too? Also if he has too and does not attend what will happen? Also the officer dealing with it ask me to go to the station for just “ a chat” but when i got there out me under caution recorded everything and took my DNA and fingerprints can i report the officer for that as it was more then just a “chat”?
Keels - 15-Jan-18 @ 11:19 PM
My partner has court from hitting a 62 year old with a chair and he had stitches will my partner go to prison
Coli20 - 13-Jan-18 @ 6:55 AM
My partner has magistrates on Monday from hitting a 63 year old with a chair And he had stitches in his head will he go to prison he’s got a bad criminal record
Colette - 13-Jan-18 @ 6:51 AM
I waited 4 years 1 extra year then I was supposed to wait while nursing many phobic symptoms so the wait time is like living death,, anyways I was accused by my ex of Luke 15 things they found me not guilty to Alex pet in the end they left the worst 5 and now the judge have given me a guilty verdict , but I am 10000% not guilty , the judge found me guilty just on his own opinion , there was not 1 peace of proof not one , a hear say trial that I was framed for, waited till now to finally get it finished with and out the blue she forged a Facebook account and accused me of threatening her from a fake name that they traced to some guys home that I don’t even know. But because it was on the highway they said his home is closer to mine then hers and i’m guilty why ?She told me she would get free housing if she ever just accused a guy for assault and made a joke about who to pic , this was wen she was normal , but in court she gave such lies , plus my lawyer angered the judge , so I felt not safe from the beginning with him the judge would talk to my lawyer.Anyways my life is now found guilty of 5 of the worst charges that shame me to even watch on TV let alone commit myself :( and i’m on the verge of killing myself soon. Don’t know why the system found me guilty wen i’m obviously not plus they used a name that I ascaped sharia law with and wen I got here 25 years ago my whole family changed our names back to our regular Christian born name and threw out the whole trial they called me by that name that could have me killed bringing problems from back home.Since court I been almoust run over 10 times told to go back to my own country wen in fact i’m a Canadian proud citazen.Someone meantion Rd apeal to a higher court, b cause the judge can’t find reasonable doubt just from his opinion. Even cops went on the stand and stuck up for me but the judge said i’m not dealing with reading the verdict i’m just gonna give it to you guys and told me that i’m guilty on all 5 charges ant took off. I’m 100% inocent and in order to change the law to protect God bows how many innocent people I now realize must be in jail scares me to death. Wen I got sent in for the 2 weeks the guards basically raped me the way they conducted their duties.I have no one. My dog is dying and my 3 other dogs are getting older. No wife no kids no nothing and now i’m guilty in a country that I believed 100% that they would never find an inocent man guilty, that’s what beyond reasonable doubt means, a judge shouldn’t give an opinion with no facts and call it reasonable doubt I cry night and day and don’t care who reads this because I will be gone soon. This world is not meant for me. I am a looser that’s loves and gets hate back. I now have Agoraphobia just seeing how easy it is for her to ruin my life and she that Ben got a guilty plea :( 1 month I will commit suicide hoping to change this law because now I know that there must be inocent lives being tortured by Demond’s that don
Be gone soon please - 12-Dec-17 @ 4:32 PM
Twix - Your Question:
I have been charged with common assault on my husband I admitted in my police interview this but I am now going to plead not guilty on the basis of diminished responsibility the reason being when I was arrested the police made me walk on a possible fractured knee it has since been confirmed that my knee is fractured also my husband in his interview admitted it was all his fault because I caught him kissing another woman in our house and during our altercation he pushed me so hard he caused the fracture to my knee what is the chance of me being found not guilty

Our Response:
You would have to ask a legal professional about this sorry, we can't comment on issues where we don't have all the facts or both parties' versions of events.
AboutHumanRights - 12-Dec-17 @ 11:53 AM
My brother hasbeen dealing with court appointed lawyers who has not worked with him at all as far as his defensegoes. He's goes to trialjan.4.I know he's innocentbut what else can I do
Ace - 11-Dec-17 @ 3:55 PM
Rights , Those days have gone I was in county court and in part 1 never got my chance against them as judge said cant be bothered off home. 2nd half judge said to complaint would this time but no. Solicitors had me prove perjury lies deception against them . They perverted the course of justice and the judge said i was wrong for pointing it out 15 times it was a bad accusation. WHAT ! So the law can lie and the proof be there in there own words in sworn statements and the court does nothing. The complaints then get ignored all to protect the judges that protect the dishonest solicitors. Now they have me heading to court injunction to gag me and its based on lies and i said adjourn it get transcripts they will win /prove case. Shock horror that is a no heaven forbid the truth gets out. Dont expect justice no more if your fight is against corrupt justice no matter how strong your case is .
Laws Lawless - 10-Dec-17 @ 3:59 PM
I have been charged with common assault on my husband I admitted in my police interview this but I am now going to plead not guilty on the basis of diminished responsibility the reason being when I was arrested the police made me walk on a possible fractured knee it has since been confirmed that my knee is fractured also my husband in his interview admitted it was all his fault because I caught him kissing another woman in our house and during our altercation he pushed me so hard he caused the fracture to my knee what is the chance of me being found not guilty
Twix - 9-Dec-17 @ 10:05 PM
Briefly: Charged with an office of harassment. In is a case that is dealt with at the magistrates courts. It does carry up to 6-months custodial too. The accuser happens to be a solicitor. I pled guilty (for numerous reasons all outlined late)r. Before the sentencing hearing, I submitted an application to change my plea. It followed all the legal rules and more. It destroys their case in every respect including: it doesn't meet the elements of the offence, it fails the CPS evidence test and the evidence is at best false on every single line and the person has committed perjury. The court staff however decided to 'conceal' the applications and ignore and used a pre-planned arrest warrant. They also concealed other submissions of documents and communications and seen to be 'fixing the files'. Had they not carried out the case will have been adjourned for a hearing of the application. It is 100% certain that the case would fail. That would cause a huge problem not only for the accuser but also the court admin and the police who have helped this case to progress this far. Once I knew that the court staff did this my wife & I fled our home but kept in contact with the courts and the police to no avail. I was more than happy to proceed to trial but the case is so poor it should never have been brought but it is a vindictive charge in every respect. I have the complete case files. Is this perverting the course of justice? I know I can prove all of this but does this terminate the case? Is there a solicitor or barrister out there that would take on this case knowing That it will effectively destroy another lawyers' career and future? We are in a desperate situation today. Thank you,
Baldeagle - 3-Dec-17 @ 11:06 PM
Tiffany - Your Question:
Hi I would like some advise, my partner assaulted me a week ago and he has been remanded because he hasn't an address for bail. The police took pictures of my face and that's the only evidence. I have a baby with him and it's his first xmas and despite what's happened he loves his son. I've gave the police a statement saying I've lied and done the injuries to my self will he get out will the cps still charge him.

Our Response:
We can't say what will happen. If you're found to have lied, you could face charges yourself.
AboutHumanRights - 29-Nov-17 @ 11:34 AM
Hi I would like some advise, my partner assaulted me a week ago and he has been remanded because he hasn't an address for bail. The police took pictures of my face and that's the only evidence. I have a baby with him and it's his first xmas and despite what's happened he loves his son. I've gave the police a statement saying I've lied and done the injuries to my self will he get out will the cps still charge him.
Tiffany - 28-Nov-17 @ 3:42 PM
I've just received a court letter to plead to a fraud charge.. Claiming income support and housing benefits as a single mother... Yes I am still a single mother!! They don't have much evidence other than he actually cares about his children and visits them regularly. My biggest worry it social media and the local papers as my name will be over it, I have bad anxiety and can not deal with it.. What I can I do about that?
Beccabx - 25-Nov-17 @ 8:03 PM
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
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the AboutHumanRights website. Please read our Disclaimer.