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The Important Elements of Due Process

50158822 - render illustration of due process title on legal documentsWe are are familiar with the term “due process,” but could we explain it in detail? Due process stands as the foundation of our country and judicial system, so it’s important to understand its functions. According to due process, states must respect the legal rights owed to each American citizen. This balances the power of law and protects individual people from being abused by that power.

The History of Due Process

The concept of due process actually originates nearly 2,000 years ago to the Magna Carta, which was issued in 1215 by John of England. He promised, “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.”

The term “due process” itself finally arose in an abbreviated version of the Magna Carta in 1354, and was subsequently passed down over the years, though it did not always apply to all citizens equally. The noble and royal families typically benefitted from due process far more than poor peasant families.

Due Process in America

The call for due process can be found in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The amendments act as protection from random or targeted denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government.

The Fifth Amendment reads, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury…. Nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The Fourteenth Amendment states, “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.”

Both of these amendments are critical to establishing the fact that the American people are innocent until proven guilty, which sets us apart from many other nations.