If you’re like most people, you’ve heard the phrase due process – but it’s kind-of a broad term, so what does it really mean? Find out now.
What is Due Process in the Wisconsin Criminal Court System?
Due process is a term that means legal matters must be resolved under established rules that ensure criminal suspects are treated fairly. In fact, it applies to civil matters, as well – so generally speaking, it means that people facing potential legal consequences for anything must be treated fairly, and their rights must not be violated. It’s the framework for the legal relationship people have with local, state and federal government.
Due process is part of both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Both of these amendments prohibit the government from doing anything that would deprive a person of “life, liberty or property without due process of law.”
Related: Will talking to police help my case?
Due Process in Practice
There are two types of due process: procedural and substantive.
Procedural due process requires the federal government to notify a person, give the person the opportunity to be heard, and provide a decision by a neutral party if the government may act in a way that could deny a person life, liberty or property. You see this in practice when a person goes to court after being accused of a criminal offense. The person who’s been accused of a crime has the following rights (and then some):
- An unbiased tribunal (which may mean either a judge alone or a judge and jury)
- Know the charges and on what grounds the charges were made
- Present reasons to show that the charges should not stand
- Present evidence
- Call witnesses
- Know what type of evidence the opposing party has
- Cross-examine witnesses for the opposing party
- Representation by legal counsel (an attorney)
- An impartial decision based only on the evidence presented
Substantive due process allows courts to protect people’s fundamental rights from government interference, such as when laws are vaguely written or the rights aren’t expressly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Criminal Charges?
Attorneys can represent you in court and ensure that you receive due process – they’re there to preserve your rights. If you’ve been accused of a crime, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule your free consultation now so we can answer your questions and help you get the best possible outcome in your case.