Rights of a Defendant in UK Criminal Justice

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In 1950, the United Kingdom signed the European Convention on Human Rights. Rules enumerated under that convention, which include basic rights of the accused, only became directly enforceable under British Law after passage of the Human Rights Act of 1998 (see References 1).


Upon pressing charges, the police are required to release the accused on bail unless a custody officer has good reason to impose further detention. When holding individuals in custody, the police must bring the accused before the Magistrates Court for a bail hearing when it next convenes (see References 2).

Funding and Legal Representation

All individuals charged with serious offences have the right to legal representation. Many defendants "rely on public funding to provide representation," according to the National Council for Civil Liberties. Defendants have the right to obtain the services of the court's duty solicitor for their first court appearance and can later apply to the court for a representation order (see References 3).


There is a right to appeal verdicts and sentences from the Magistrates Court to the Crown Court. If the defendant pleaded guilty, he can only appeal the sentence. Pleas based upon Crown Court decisions must be made to the Court of Appeal within 28 days after conviction (see references 4 and 5).