Defendant or accused

The defendant or accused is the individual or legal entity against whom the case has been brought. They are summoned to appear in court for breaking the law and for committing an offence that caused harm to the victim.

In criminal cases, the term ‘accused’ is used if it involves a crime, and ‘defendant’ if it involves a misdemeanour or minor offence. The defendant/accused is obliged to appear, either in person or represented by a lawyer. If they do not attend, with or without good reason, the court may choose to recall them at a later date, or to dispense justice in their absence.

Every defendant/accused is protected by a number of rights. They have the right to be assisted by a lawyer, to be heard by an impartial and independent court, to be tried within a reasonable time, to prepare their defence and to challenge the court decision (make an appeal).

The defendant/accused must prepare their defence on the basis of facts of law that will enable them to challenge the other party. The defence is mainly oral.

I was a victim of a criminal offence: consequences and reactions The rights of victims of a criminal offence Criminal proceedings Who is who in criminal proceedings

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