5 Rights You Didn’t Know You had as a Defendant in Court

The rule of law exists to protect us all, including those accused of committing a crime.

And it’s those protections under the law that allow for the right to a fair trial, and the right to remain silent. But what about some of the other defendants’ rights that you might not be aware of?

Here are 5 rights for defendants that you might not have been aware of before.

The Right to a Public Trial

The sixth amendment to the constitution guarantees defendants in a criminal trial the ‘right to a public trial without unnecessary delay.’

If you feel that your case could be subject to undue pressure from the state judiciary, or from other elements, a public trial allows for an open hearing. Your friends and family, legal representatives, and the press will all be allowed to watch proceedings.

This helps to provide you with the fairest possible trial, thanks to the glare of transparency.

Suitable Legal Representation

It is a fundamental right of all citizens that, during legal proceedings, the criminal defendant has the right to suitable legal representation for their circumstances.

The right is protected, even if you cannot afford your own attorney. The state has an obligation to provide you with a representative who will defend you if you cannot afford your own. You also have the right to defend yourself instead.

Additional advice on legal aid and support for low-income families can be found on the US Federal Government website here.

Right to Trial by Jury

Along with the right to a public trial, one of the rights of defendants is the right to a trial by a jury of their peers, but in North Carolina, in certain cases, you’re not obligated to take it.

If you’re charged with a felony, you can decide between a jury trial or a bench trial, where the judge (the ‘bench’) will make the decision on your criminal guilt based on the evidence, instead.

For a misdemeanor charge under a district judge, you can only obtain a trial by jury if you’re convicted and then make an appeal to a higher court.

Reasonable Bail Costs

The eight amendment guarantees that a criminal defendant is not charged an excessive bail bond cost to secure their release pending any trial. It’s an important right to consider, as the alternative is waiting for trial in prison.

If you feel the cost of bail is excessive, your attorney can appeal to another court to lower it.

If you’re wondering whether you might need a bail bond and how they work, take a look at our help guide.

Double Jeopardy Protection

One very important consideration for criminal defendants is if they’re pursued for a second time for a crime if they’ve already been tried and acquitted (or served a sentence for it previously).

This ‘double jeopardy’ protection is one of your fifth amendment rights, so seek professional legal advice at the earliest opportunity if you feel this is the case.

Ensure Defendants Rights Are Respected

Sometimes, the rights of defendants can fall by the wayside in the pursuit of quick justice. This must not be allowed to happen.

If you’re charged with a criminal offense, make sure you’re given the right to suitable legal representation. Understanding defendants rights like these will help you mount a defense in any criminal trial.

And remember, you’re entitled to the right to affordable bail terms that match the seriousness of any accused crime. If you’re in need of a bail bond agent, contact us for a free and speedy consultation today.