Due process is the a term that applies to legal proceedings and laws along with safeguards for the protection of individual rights. It is more commonly referred to in such terms as the "law of the land" and "legal judgment of his peers." This terminology was used for the first time in the sense of due process in the great charter of English liberty, the Magna Carta.

The U. S. Constitution guarantees that the government cannot take away a person's basic rights to 'life, liberty or property, without due process of law.' Courts have issued numerous rulings about what this in many cases. The phrase due process first appears in the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified December 15, 1791. Because the amendment refers specifically to federal and not state actions, another amendment was necessary to include the states. This was accomplished by the 14th Amendment under Section 1, ratified July 9, 1868.

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

U.S. Constitution Amendment XIV

The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the deprivation of liberty or property without due process of law. A due process claim is judicially heard and determined only if there is a recognized liberty or property interest at stake.

The Sixth Amendment, which is applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, guarantees a criminal defendant a the basic right to be clearly informed of the cause and nature of the charges against him.

    As determined by custom and law, due process has become a guarantee of civil as well as criminal rights. Much emphasis has recently been placed by the U.S. Supreme Court on procedural safeguards in the administration of criminal justice in federal and state courts. Through interpretation of the law, due process has grown to include, among other things, provision for ensuring an accused person a fair and public trial before a competent tribunal, the right to be present at the trial, and the right to be heard in his or her own defense; the doctrine that the provisions of criminal statutes must be drawn so that reasonable persons can be presumed to know when they are breaking the law; and the principles that taxes may be imposed only for public purposes, that property may be taken by the government only for public use, and that the owners of property so taken must be fairly compensated.

Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000

Due process can be defined basically as fair treatment. All through the history of the United States case law and statutes have strived to determine standards for fair treatment of citizens by federal, state and local governments. These standards have become commonly known as due process. When someone is treated unfairly by the courts and/or government, he is said to have been deprived of or denied due process.

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