What Are My Rights as a Defendant?
5th February 2021
If you are charged with a crime in North Dakota, don’t leave your case to chance. Get a knowledgeable and experienced attorney on your side!
In North Dakota, there were 33,210 arrests made in 2018. Of those arrests, drug abuse violations resulted in 5,448 of them, and driving under the influence resulted in 5,136. North Dakota is the state with the most DUIs. About 5.17% of residents have been convicted of a DUI at least once. Additionally, 12.4% of drivers have had an accident involving alcohol or drug use, and 24.9% of adults in North Dakota reported that they often drink excessively.
Being in a legal battle is stressful. Whether it’s a civil lawsuit or a criminal one, you’re likely worried about what the outcome of your case will be. However, while you are the defendant—the one charged—you still have certain rights within the court system.
Right to Due Process
“Due Process” is the right afforded to citizens to protect them from any unsupported attempts that may deprive them of life, liberty, and property. These rights are afforded to citizens through the Bill of Rights. These rights include:
- The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. This right protects defendants from having their homes searched without reasonable suspicion or a warrant. Any evidence obtained by breaking the Fourth Amendment will be invalid in court. In situations of unreasonable search, the incidence of wrongful arrest is high.
- The Sixth Amendment guarantees that defendants are given the right to counsel. They have the right to hire a defense attorney for themselves or be appointed one by the court. Without this amendment, defendants wouldn’t have the ability to properly defend their case, leading to unlawful punishment and incorrect trial outcomes, as both sides wouldn’t showcase proper evidence.
- The Eighth Amendment prevents cruel and unusual punishment of private citizens. This protects defendants from incurring excessive fines, bail, and other harsh penalties that may be placed on them.
- The Fifth Amendment allows citizens to prevent themselves from saying anything that may be self-incriminating. They may “plead the fifth” to avoid answering a question that could be detrimental to their case.
Other various rights used in judicial system practices include:
- A defendant is innocent until proven guilty.
- Guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
- A defendant has the right to present evidence and defend themselves.
- The government cannot use entrapment.
The Burden of Proof and Prosecution
When convicting a defendant of a crime, the court must show that they are guilty without any reasonable doubt. They must be able to prove that the defendant committed the illegal act and that there’s no reasonable chance that they could be innocent. This protects citizens from being wrongfully convicted when only some evidence points to them being guilty.
The Sixth Amendment allows the defendant to be directly confronted and questioned by witnesses of the crime. However, it also allows witnesses to be cross-examined by the defendant or their attorney if they have one. If the defendant has been removed from court due to disruption or if they never showed up to the trial, witnesses may testify without the defendant present.
Also protected by the Sixth Amendment, defendants are allowed the right to have their trial publicized. However, with high media involvement, such as television crews, news coverage, and more, trials can be damaged by the publicity. The Sixth Amendment also allows the judge to restrict the number of people allowed in the courtroom. They can also remove unruly individuals and limiting media coverage of the case. If the judge believes that the defendant’s right to a fair trial is in question, they can also prevent parties from discussing the case, such as news outlets and other mediums.
Trial by Jury
The right to trial by jury is protected by the Sixth Amendment and states that if either side asks for a trial by jury, it must be given to them. Jury size varies by state and by case but is often six to twelve people.
While the Constitution does protect a defendant’s right to a speedy trial, it does not state a time frame or time limit. Defendants may also delay this right to prepare their case. This can give them time to gather more evidence to build their claim.
Contacting a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are seeking legal representation for your case in the state of North Dakota, contact our aggressive criminal defense attorneys for help with your case. For a list of criminal defense cases that we handle, read more here.
We know how stressful being charged with a crime can be, so it’s crucial that you hire an experienced and well-respected North Dakota criminal attorney to defend your case. We have handled countless criminal cases at all stages of litigation, and we have all the tools to ensure that your case is adequately taken care of. For more information or a free case evaluation, please contact us online or by calling us at 701-609-1510.