Accused or Defendant is the term given in criminal proceedings to someone who is being investigated on suspicion of committing a crime.
A suspect may be named as the accused or defendant by the police, the prosecution, or the judge. From this point on,
he/she not only has certain rights but is also bound by a number of obligations. These rights and obligations shall apply throughout the proceedings.

The defendant has the right to be present whenever proceedings concerning him/her are conducted or to be heard whenever a decision affecting him/her is to be taken, to be informed, before testifying, of the facts of which he/she is suspected of having committed, to refuse to answer questions about those facts, to be represented by a defence lawyer, to submit evidence, and to appeal against unfavourable decisions.

The defendant has the following main duties:
to appear before a judge, the Public Prosecutor or the police whenever summoned to do so, to consent to be examined on evidence and not to move from his/her home or to be away from it for more than 5 days without giving notice of the new address or place where he/she can be found.

At the trial, the first person asked to report his or her presence is the defendant. The defendant shall be entitled to refuse to testify. However, any statements made at an earlier stage of the case may be used and taken into account by the judge. If the defendant wishes to testify, the judge starts by asking whether or not what is stated in the indictment is true, in other words whether or not the defendant confesses to the crime. The defendant then has the opportunity to give his/her version of what happened and the judge may interrupt to ask certain specific questions. The judge then asks the prosecutor and the lawyers, in turn, to examine or cross-examine the defendant. Unlike witnesses, the defendant does not take an oath, in other words he/she does not undertake to tell the truth.

The defendant may be removed from the courtroom while any witness, particularly the victim, is testifying. This occurs when the court believes that the presence of the defendant may prevent the victim from telling the truth or if the victim is under 16 years of age and there are reasonable grounds to suspect that testifying in the presence of the defendant may have serious negative consequences.

If the defendant is summoned to appear in court but fails to do so, the trial will continue even in his/her absence and the sentence will be served on him/her at a later stage. If it was not possible to serve the summons because, for example, the defendant’s whereabouts were unknown, this means that the defendant has failed in his or her duty to inform the court of his or her absence from the address given. In this case , the proceedings are suspended while the authorities try to locate him/her.

In these cases, the defendant is classified as wilfully disobedient and his/her name is included in a register of wilfully disobedient persons. This entails a range of negative consequences, including arrest warrants issued in their name, the inability to obtain documents such as national identity cards or driving licenses, and possibly confiscation of their property, all with a view to finding them and holding them responsible for the acts they are suspected of having committed.


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