Rights of the Accused

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Criminal defendants around the world are afforded many rights. The general theory behind these rights is that the government has enormous resources available to it for the prosecution of individuals and individuals are therefore entitled to some protection from misuse by the government of those powers.

In common law countries, many of the rights below have been developed over years of case law and as a result, the rules can be very complex. This section should be viewed as an overview of the most significant rights of the defendants.

Rights with Police

  • Arrest
  • Right to Silence
  • Search and Seizure
  • Right to Counsel
  • Confessions
  • Pretrial Identification

Rights at Detention

  • Right to Counsel
  • Right to Habeas Corpus
  • Right to be free of punishment
  • Right to medical care

Rights at Trial

  • Right to a Fair Trial
  • Right to Notice of Charges
  • Right to Trial by Jury
  • Right to Confront Witnesses
  • Right to a Speedy Trial
  • Right to Counsel
  • Presumption of Innocence
  • Double Jeapardy


  • Right to sentence free of torture
  • Right to sentence without cruel or unusual punishment
  • Right to fines that are not excessive
  • Ex Poste Facto Punishment

Rights in Prison