Protecting your rights in criminal defense: work with an experienced attorney, P.1
Due process is an important topic in criminal defense. The protection of due process, which is mentioned in both the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, means that criminal defendants have the right to fair and equal protection in the criminal process. These protections include, among other things, the right to a fair trial by an impartial jury.
Obtaining a fair trial is not always a given in the criminal justice system. It can depend on the nature of the charges, the forum in which the case is being tried, and the prosecutors who are handling the case. The latter may be surprising, but in some cases prosecutors do not honor the integrity of the criminal process and end up damaging due process.
A recent example of overzealous prosecution which ended up harming the criminal process is the case of a pharmacy chain owner who was charged with health care fraud and aggravated identity theft in Maryland federal court back in 2013. According to federal prosecutors, the pharmacy chain owner had defrauded both Medicare and Medicaid, as well as private insurance companies, by submitting false claims for prescription refills that weren’t requested or received by customers. Prosecutors also said that the insurers were not reimbursed after when customers did not receive the medications.
The pharmacy owner ended up being convicted in 2014 on the charges, after which he hired new attorneys and won a motion for a new trial. In the new trial, the charges ended up being dismissed on the grounds that the government violated the man’s due process rights. Specifically, the prosecutor who handled the case apparently failed to disclose evidence, destroyed exculpatory evidence, and presented “significant” false testimony at trial.
We’ll continue looking at this story in our next post, as well as the importance of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect one’s due process rights in a criminal case.