Due Process Of Law Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Due Process Of Law, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Due Process Of Law?

n. A basic principle of fairness which is applied in all legal matters in the courts, including criminal and civil matters. In order for prejudicial or unequal treatment not to occur, all legal procedures set by statute and court practice must be followed for each individual. While a bit imprecise, the term is gauged by its intention to safeguard private and public rights against unfairness. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees due process, providing for “”No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” and is applied to all states by the 14th Amendment. Legal decisions that determine procedural and substantive rights flow from this basic principle.

History and Meaning of Due Process Of Law

Due process of law refers to the legal principle that requires the government to respect an individual's legal rights, including a fair and impartial trial, before taking away a person's life, liberty, or property. The concept of due process dates back to the Magna Carta in 1215 and has been a cornerstone of legal systems around the world ever since. In the United States, due process is enshrined in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

Due process includes both procedural and substantive rights, meaning that not only must the proper procedures be followed in legal proceedings, but the laws themselves must be fair and just. The principle is meant to ensure that individuals are protected from arbitrary or capricious actions by the government and that they are afforded equal protection under the law.

Examples of Due Process Of Law

  1. A criminal defendant is entitled to a fair trial, which includes the right to an attorney, the right to present evidence, and the right to cross-examine witnesses.
  2. A landlord must follow proper legal procedures, such as giving notice to tenants and going through the proper channels to evict a tenant before taking any action.
  3. In a civil lawsuit, both parties have the right to present evidence and make arguments in front of a judge or jury to ensure that the decision-making process is fair.

Legal Terms Similar to Due Process Of Law

  • Equal protection: The principle that all individuals are entitled to the same legal rights and protections, and that laws should be applied equally to everyone.
  • Procedural justice: The concept of fairness in the process of legal proceedings, including the proper handling of evidence, the right to a fair trial, and the right to appeal a decision.
  • Substantive due process: The idea that certain individual rights are protected by the Constitution and that laws that violate those rights are invalid.