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At the end of this module you should be able to:
• Summarise what you
learnt regarding this introduction to the legal system
Because a criminal record can do so much damage, our laws provide many protections to be sure that no one is wrongly convicted of a crime. When a suspect is arrested, he has the right to contact his family or friends to let them know what has happened and to obtain the services of a lawyer. He is brought as soon as possible (usually within 24 hours) before a magistrate or a justice.
The magistrate or justice listens to the arresting policeman's story and decides whether there is enough evidence to go further with the case. He explains to the accused person the charge that is being made against him and advises him of his legal right to bring in a lawyer and to present witnesses. If the accused person cannot afford a lawyer, he may ask the court to appoint one to defend him free of charge. And he is told if his case is one that will be dealt with in the lower courts or if he must be tried before a judge and jury.
If he has to appear before the judge and jury, his lawyer and the prosecutor will try to bring out all the facts of the case, and a jury of twelve people will decide whether or not he committed the crime. They must all agree on the verdict; he cannot be convicted if even one juror believes he is not guilty.
In our country, the rights of an accused person to a fair trial are just as important as the rights of the persons who were injured by the crime.
Laws are made for the good of us all. Respect for and obedience to these laws enable us to live together safely and peacefully. We want our rights protected, so we must protect the rights of others. All of this sounds pretty serious. And it is! Let's take a last look at the whole subject from your point of view. Let's get practical again.
Activity 5.2 - Additional Exercise on Equality and Justice? (interview questions)
Resources: Mandatory Sentencing, Commission Speaking for ourselves, Uses and abuses of drug law enforcement statistics, Alcohol and Crime, Age of illicit drug initiation, Alcohol and Minorities: An Update, Alcohol-related Social Disorder and Rural Youth: Part 1 Victims, Tough on Drugs, Schaffer Library of Drug Policy , The Links Between Alcohol and Drug Use and Poverty
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