Accused

When you are charged with a crime, you are called “the accused” and your criminal charge will be examined in criminal proceedings. During the investigation stage you may also be called “a suspect” or the person against whom the criminal proceedings have been initiated.

As an accused in criminal proceedings, you have the broadest set of rights and guarantees. They are designed to ensure that you are not convicted due to somebody else’s influence and interests or without giving you a chance to challenge the evidence against you and to present your own explanations.  

Some of these rights apply to the entire criminal process. This means not only the court hearings, but also the part of the criminal process before the case is sent to the court. Examples of these rights include the right to a lawyer, the right to remain silent or the presumption of innocence.

Right to a fair trial

The right to a fair trial includes a number of requirements for the criminal procedure to be fair. For the most part these rights guarantee that:

  • you know the crime of which you have been accused 
  • you are given adequate opportunities to prepare and present your defence and to challenge the arguments and evidence of the prosecutor 
  • you cannot be forced or tricked into making a confession you don’t want to make 
  • the court proceedings are not unreasonably long and are accessible and open to public scrutiny

As the accused in a criminal trial, you also have certain duties which you must fulfil to ensure the fairness of your trial. You must fulfil those duties otherwise later on you may not be able to claim that your rights to a fair trial have been violated.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education