A defense attorney is a lawyer who often represents criminal defendants in court.
- The defense attorney presents all evidence to refute the argument of the prosecutor and challenges all unclear ascertains of the truths by the prosecutor to make sure that the high load of proof is met.
- The defense lawyer challenges errors occurring during the court proceedings and may pursue to have charges dropped due to illegal and unreliable evidence and testimony.
- The defense attorney makes the defendant aware of his or her rights and protects those rights to make sure that they are not violated.
Rights of the defendant
- Right to confront a witness. The defendant has a right to directly face the witness. However, special situations do exist where a witness can testify in the absence of the defendant.
- Right to public trial. This is to ensure that the defendant receives fair and reasonable trial. Practically, all trials are public allowing media personnel and victims to be in court. However, the judge can restrict the number of people in the court.
- Right to a speedy trial. The defendant has right to a speedy trial, however there is no specific time is set. Typically, the accused may delay their right to speedy trial to prepare their lawful case.
- Right to not be in double jeopardy. This prevents the accused from being convicted with the same incidence of wrongdoing in a given jurisdiction more than once.
- Right to a trial by jury. The defendant is guaranteed the right to a trial by jury. However, the right is only guaranteed to those persons facing charges that carry a sentence of six and above months in jail. Trial by judge may occur but if both or one of the parties requests trial by jury, it must occur.
Rights of the victim
- Right to attend. Victims and their families are given the right to attend the court proceedings. This right is most important to victims who want to follow the criminal justice proceeding. They may be interested in hearing the counsel’s point of view and see the reaction of the defendant, judge and jury.
- Right to compensation. Crime victim compensation is a government program planned to refund victims for their out of pocket expenditures connected to the crime.
- Right to be heard. This is one of the most significant right for crime victims. Victims play a proactive role in the criminal justice proceedings by being heard. If a crime victim is given the chance to speak at the sentencing hearing, there is an understanding of the nature of the crime and harm suffered.
- Right to be informed. The criminal justice system is regularly obligated to provide general information which the victim is interested in. This may include the schedule of the proceedings, outcome of the proceedings, when the proceedings have been cancelled or rescheduled.
- Right to protection. Protection to victims is required during the criminal justice procedures. This right may take a general form as stated right to protection or may involve specific protective actions. The victims should be informed of the protective measures available.