Protecting your rights in criminal defense: work with experienced attorney, P.2

Last time, we began looking at the case of a Maryland pharmacy owner who successfully had fraud charges thrown out on the grounds that the prosecutor handling the case acted improperly by failing to disclose evidence, destroying exculpatory evidence, and presenting false testimony at trial, thereby misinforming jurors.

Regarding the exculpatory evidence, the prosecutor who tried the case admitted to discarding numerous documents, but argued that the defendant’s attorneys had various opportunities to review the files and never made use of them. Still, as the court pointed out, the files were discarded while a new trial was pending, which constituted an abuse of the process. The case is a good example of the importance of due process, and ho an experienced advocate can work to make things right when due process is not provided.

Due process does not necessarily mean that the same exact procedures are used in every case. This would be impossible, since each case involves different facts, and circumstances. Due process does require, though, that a defendant not be deprived of life, liberty or property by mistaken or unjustified means, and that protections in the criminal process are applied consistently and fairly.

Several aspects of the criminal process that touch upon the right to due process in a particularly important way are the discovery process, the ability to confront adverse witnesses in cross-examination, that decisions in criminal cases always be made on record, as well as the various other rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, including the right to representation by counsel.

The task of a criminal defense attorney is to ensure that a criminal defendant takes full advantage of the protections available through the criminal process. Without doing so, the government retains the balance of power and the criminal process is not functioning properly.


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