Due Process

Due process is a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy that helps ensure all legal proceedings unfold fairly and according to the law and the Constitution. For criminal defendants, understanding what due process is and what rights are guaranteed during the criminal process is essential. 

Two Types of Due Process

Two Types of Due Process

Guaranteed by the Due Process Clauses in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, due process principles are divided into two categories: procedural and substantive.

Procedural Due Process

Procedural due process refers to the rights afforded to individuals to ensure fair treatment through the judicial system. This concept is vital in safeguarding individual liberties against arbitrary government decisions. Some of the most important procedural due process rights include:

Right To Be Heard

The right to be heard is one of the primary procedural due process rights, ensuring that before being deprived of any significant life, liberty, or property interest (such as freedom and assets), you can appear in court and present your side of what happened. This includes a chance at a hearing where evidence can be contested and arguments can be made.

Right to a Fair Trial

This is a foundational aspect of the judicial process, ensuring that justice is served in an impartial and equitable manner. All individuals are entitled to a fair public hearing by a competent, independent, impartial judge and jury. 

Additionally, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty and must have sufficient time and facilities to prepare their defense. This is true whether they’re facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge.

Right to Counsel

The right to counsel guarantees that a defendant in criminal proceedings will have the assistance of legal representation. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, the court must provide one at no cost. 

This ensures fairness and equity within the judicial process by equipping all people, regardless of financial means, with professional help that can advocate on their behalf.

Right To Confront Witnesses

This right allows individuals accused of a crime to face their accusers and challenge the evidence against them. 

This means that if someone says you did something wrong, you have the right to see them at trial, ask them questions, and present your own side of the story (usually through your lawyer). 

Right To Be Free From Unlawful Search and Seizure

This constitutional right protects individuals against arbitrary and unreasonable intrusions by the government into their personal privacy, homes, and belongings. 

It also mandates that a valid warrant must be issued by a judge, based on probable cause, before any search or seizure can be lawfully conducted – unless a warrant exception applies.

Right to Not Incriminate Yourself

This right ensures that individuals cannot be compelled to testify against themselves during a criminal proceeding. It protects against self-incrimination, allowing a person to refuse to answer any questions or make statements that could reveal information leading to their own conviction. 

Understanding your procedural due process rights is absolutely critical if you’re being questioned by the police or facing criminal charges.

Substantive Due Process

Substantive due process involves the rights regarding fundamental freedoms that are protected from government infringement unless there is a compelling reason. Common and important ones include:

Right to Privacy

This broad concept covers decisions affecting marriage, procreation, contraception, and family relationships, as well as decisions that express an individual’s personality and dignity. 

The right to privacy protects individuals’ right to make decisions over their personal lives free from undue government interference. 

Right To Die

The right to die pertains to issues surrounding an individual’s ability to make autonomous decisions about ending their own life or refusing life-sustaining treatment in the event of terminal illness or severe quality-of-life impairments.

Right To Procreate

The right to procreate is acknowledged as a fundamental personal liberty, assuring freedom in deciding if and when they want to bear a child.

Understanding substantive due process and its role in protecting fundamental rights is central to safeguarding personal freedoms against unjust governmental interference.

Schedule a Free Case Review With an Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are unsure of your due process rights or are facing a situation where you think they are being violated, it’s important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Contact Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer. Give us a call at (317) 759-2599.