• Section 25(2) applies to persons who have been charged with a criminal offence and provides minimum guarantees, which are specific aspects of the right to a fair trial.
  • The minimum guarantees must be provided to all persons charged with a criminal offence ‘without discrimination’.
  • A person charged with a criminal offence has the right to be informed promptly of the charge so that he or she may make a full answer and defence to that charge.
  • A person charged with a criminal offence also has the right to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defence and the right to adequate time and facilities to communicate with a lawyer or advisor of the person’s choice during all stages following the laying of the charge, including, for example, pre-trial procedural steps.
  • Whether time and facilities are adequate depends on factors such as the nature of the proceedings and the complexity of the case.
  • An accused should have the opportunity to engage and communicate with a lawyer. If the accused does not request a lawyer or advisor, the accused should have the opportunity later to request a lawyer or advisor in the event that the accused changes his or her mind.
  • The right to trial without unreasonable delay relates to the time by which a trial should commence, but also the time by which it should end and judgment is given.
  • Whether delay is unreasonable will depend on the nature of the case and a range of factors, such as whether the accused is in custody and the length of the delay.
  • An accused has the right to be tried and to defend himself or herself in person or through legal assistance of his or her choice or if eligible, through legal aid.
  • If an accused does not already have legal assistance, he or she must be told, if eligible, about the availability of legal aid.
  • The obligation to provide legal aid is confined to cases where the interests of justice require it and the person is eligible for legal aid under the Legal Aid Act.
  • An accused has the right to examine prosecution witnesses and also has the right to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his or her behalf under the same conditions as the prosecution.
  • The accused should have the same powers as the prosecution to compel the attendance of witnesses and of examining or cross-examining any witness. However, the right of the accused to examine prosecution witnesses is qualified by the words ‘unless otherwise provided by law’.
  • An accused who does not speak or understand English has the right to the assistance of an interpreter to provide an oral translation free of charge.
  • Persons with communication or speech difficulties have the right to have the free assistance of assistants and specialised communication tools and technology.
  • A person charged with a criminal offence has a right not to be compelled to testify against himself or herself or to confess guilt.