The importance of a fair hearing and a fair trial when facing a criminal charge cannot be overstated. If you’ve been accused of a crime, the potential repercussions are immense. You could be staring at serious jail time. You could severely jeopardize your social standing and make it much harder to earn an honest, adequate income. The consequences of a miscarriage of justice are too grave to be disregarded.
The criminal justice system is fitted with several safeguards meant to protect the innocent from unfair punishment. Still, it’s bedeviled by systemic problems that can inadvertently violate the rights of the accused. A criminal defense attorney plays a critical role in safeguarding your rights. Here’s why you should contact an attorney when you are a suspect of a crime.
1. Protecting Your Right to Information
The verdict in a criminal case comes down to a decision based on the information presented. Information is, therefore, central to your rights as the accused. For starters, at the point of arrest, a defense attorney would ensure you are notified of and allowed to exercise your rights to information. That includes the right to remain silent, the right to inform a relative, friend, acquaintance, employer or consular official of your situation, the right to medical care, the right to avoid self-incrimination and, of course, the right to legal representation.
There will be instances where these rights can be restricted or delayed due to the risk of the accused informing an accomplice to get away or destroy evidence. A criminal defense attorney by your side ensures the police do not jeopardize your right to a fair hearing in the process.
2. Protecting Your Right to Be Heard
A criminal defense attorney would ensure that the judge or jury you are presented before is impartial, independent and competent. They should not be under the control of the police or government. They must not have a personal vested interest in the case, such as being a friend or relative to the presumed victim.
None of the parties who will play a part in determining your case should demonstrate discrimination or corruption. The entire process must be adequately resourced and staffed to function effectively. A criminal defense attorney would protect your right to present your side of the story. They must see what evidence is being used to charge you and, if need be, extract an explanation as to why the court has made a certain decision.
3. Protecting Your Right to Innocence
Criminal proceedings often have deep emotions involved. The case may revolve around a death, serious injury or huge financial loss that completely changes the lives and destiny of the victim and their loved ones. It’s understandable that the anger of the victim’s family and society at large may drive a hunger for someone to pay the price for the hurt caused.
This can place an innocent, accused person in danger, as the public demands to see a person take the fall. A criminal defense attorney would work to protect your right to the presumption of innocence. They’d ensure that you aren’t considered a criminal unless you have been proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt according to the law.
4. Protecting Your Right to Reasonable Preparation and Hearing Time
Criminal cases can be complex. And because of the stakes involved, extensive preparation is crucial. You need time to gather all the information and documentation needed to bolster your defense. You must have the chance to review all the evidence against you presented by the prosecution and look for counter-evidence that supports your account.
The prosecution and defense evidence here would include witnesses, reports and expert analysis. A defense attorney would defend your right to sufficient preparation time. Equally important, they’ll make certain that the case is heard and concluded without undue delay. A hearing and verdict that takes too long would be unnecessarily harmful to you.
Fair hearing and trial ensure the public can have confidence and trust in the criminal justice system. A criminal defense attorney plays a crucial role in that happening.