|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Criminal law Court system Criminal justice|
A defendant is someone charged with committing a crime in criminal prosecution. Sometimes a defendant is referred to as the accused while in civil cases; they are called defenders. Every accused person remains innocent until substantial evidence is availed to certify their guilt. Thus, a defendant reserves some rights that must be accorded to them during the trial. According to the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution, the defendant has the right to face and challenge one-on-one the witnesses testifying against them (Owusu- Bempah, 2018). However, this right is reserved for criminal prosecutions and not civil proceedings or other small legal institutions (Cole, Smith & DeJong, 2015). Criminal proceedings happening in the absence of the defendant might be manipulated, and therefore the defendant needs to be present in court. It is in this light that this paper seeks to explore more detail on the importance of a defendant's presence during trial.
One importance of the defendant's presence is that they cannot be convicted on written evidence because they have the opportunity to question the witness questions. In essence, these limits though not entirely, the chances of the witness boldly tabling false accusations, which is central to the criminal trial (Owusu-Bempah, 2018). As the defendant cross-examines the witness head-on and even ask them questions, the behavioral cues are important to the prosecution in ascertaining the credibility of the evidence given by the witness. An added advantage is maintaining eye contact while confronting the witnesses; this might help the defendant to confuse and scare those prepared to table false evidence and push them to speak the truth in favor of the defendant.
The presence of the defendant in the trial also means that they can challenge any written witnesses based on hearsay and rumors. In the absence of the defendant, such evidence might be tabled, and witnesses may come and go. The defendant reserves the right to demand the presence of a witness who has written their testimony so that they can challenge them one on one. If the court fails to present such a witness, the defendant may file a case over violation of the confrontation clause (Myers, 2016). The confrontation clause works to limit hearsay that at times is used to accuse the defendant. If the hearsay testimony fits within the description of hearsay as per the court then it is ruled out as evidence and thus cannot be used against the defendant.
The defendant has the right to be informed of any evidence tabled against them and must be given time to challenge the evidence. In their absence, the defendant might not know what evidence has been presented, nor can they prepare a proper counter plan to challenge that evidence. The defendant has the right to request more time to make proof their presence may influence a proposed whose decision in the court of law. Also, the presence of a defendant during trial is a show of commitment and an indication of cooperation. A defendant who does not appear during their trials might be deemed arrogant, rude and uncooperative. A lot of negative opinions and perceptions, even in the minds of the law might be erased by the presence of the accused.
A defendant who has hired a lawyer can evaluate the commitment of their advocates by observing their behavior during the trial. An advocate should always and at all costs defend their clients irrespective of what crime they are accused of doing. So, if the advocate is showing signs of compromise or a change of tune, the defendant can decide to retain or replace them. Besides, the presence of the defendant who does not understand the language spoken in the court compels the court to find an interpreter who explains everything that is happening during the trial to the defendant. The defendant is provided a no cost. When a witness speaks in a language that the defendant does not understand, the defendant must be provided with an interpreter who acts as the communication bridge between the witness and the defendant.
The defendant's presence during trial is also important by the fact that they can complain over the trial taking too long before reaching its verdict. The defendant has the right to write to the judge or present a case complaining of delayed prosecution (Rappaport, 2015). In their absence, the prosecution might take too long and affect the defendant, especially where they have been detained during the trial for denial of bond or lack of money to pay for the bond. The law provides that the defendant must be given a fair trial. In the absence of the defendant, a fair trial could be compromised because there might be no one to raise questions where things do not go well (Punch, 2007). A defendant has both the right to remain silent or question the proceedings if they feel that the trial is not taking the right course. For instance, when a witness gives a testimony that does not align with the case, the defendant can immediately appeal for that testimony to be dismissed.
The defendant has the right to be tried in a public jury where their family and friends are allowed (Rappaport, 2015). Being present in court is a chance to get moral and emotional support from the family and friends of the defendant, which is an advantage. Also, there is a full belief that seeing is believing. It is there essential for the defendant to be physically present during their criminal prosecution so that they can see and hear for themselves. Depending on the weight and direction of the trial, a defendant who has been present throughout the trial might decide to accept charges and end the case. Still, one who does not attend might not be able to personally assess the trial.
The law provides that a defendant cannot be tried twice over the same offense. A defendant who does not attend their prosecution process might not know what constituted to their sentence and whether a similar offense was punished twice (Myers, 2016). Being present throughout enables the defendant to monitor and note down every accusation and evidence raised in the criminal court. Besides, being present in the prosecution court enables the defendant to check and ensure that all the rights granted to them by the law are upheld and respected. Whenever the defendant notices that some of their rights are being overlooked, they can immediately raise a complaint over the same.
Also, the presence of the defendant enables them to defend themselves, apologize and ask for forgiveness directly from the complainant in front of the judge. It is a right that every accused person has, including the right to explain why they should not be sentenced (Punch, 2007). These rights and priveledges can only be enjoyed by someone present during the prosecution. To sum it up, the power of a defendant to be present during their trial is documented in the Confrontation Clause Sixth Amendment. Therefore it should be enjoyed by every defendant (Cole et al., 2015). It could be the only chance for defendants to express themselves before a lengthy sentence.
In conclusion, it is essential for the defendant to be present during their trial. However, the law does not demand that the defendant be present throughout the trial. There may be some court sessions that could demand the physical presence of the defendant, while sometimes their physical presence may not be a must. But since humans learn more through observation and experience, the physical appearance of a defendant might have a significant impact on the verdict of the criminal prosecution.
Cole, G., Smith, C., & DeJong, C. (2015). Criminal justice in America (8th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.
Myers, J. E. B. (2016). Legal issues in clinical practice with victims of violence.
Punch, M. (2007). Zero tolerance policing. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
Owusu- Bempah, A. (2018). Defendant participation in the criminal process. [Place of publication not identified]: CRC Press.
Rappaport, J. (2015). Unbundling Criminal Trial Rights. The University Of Chicago Law Review, 82(1), 181-199. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/43234693.
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