OREGON DISTRICT ATTORNEYS
The Mission of the Oregon District Attorney is to uphold the laws and Constitution of the State of Oregon and the United States Constitution, to preserve the safety of the public, to protect the rights of crime victims, and to pursue justice for all with skill, honor and integrity.
LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS
Most people know that Oregon’s DAs fight for victims of crime, but many are surprised to learn that our DAs are also passionate about protecting the rights of defendants.
Defend Victims Rights:
The rights of victims are set forth in the Oregon Constitution.
“A crime victim has a right to justice, a right to a meaningful role in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, a right to due dignity and respect, and a right to fair and impartial treatment. A crime victim’s rights shall be protected at each stage of the criminal justice system.”
Or Const, Art I Section 42(1), ORS 147.410.
Under this provision, Oregon crime victims are accorded the following rights:
The Right to Notice
The Right to Presence and Participation
The Right to Protection
Oregon DAs work hard every day to give meaning to the Victims’ Rights provisions of the Oregon Constitution stated above. They provide victims with early notice of their rights, and with ongoing notice of all critical phases of the criminal case. They strive to treat the victims of crime with the utmost dignity and respect and communicate regularly with them to give information and get input. Finally, and most importantly, Oregon DAs are committed to upholding every crime victim’s constitutional right to justice.
For more information about Oregon Crime Victims’ Rights, visit the Oregon Crime Victim’s Law Center website at www.ocvlc.org.
Defend the Rights of the Accused
Defendants have tremendous rights in our legal system. These rights stem directly
from the Constitution of the United States, not from the state constitution as victims’
rights do. Nevertheless, it is the job of DAs to do everything in his or her power to
protect the rights of anyone who is charged in a criminal case.
The rights of criminal defendants are protected by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
THE FOURTH AMENDMENT provides protection against unreasonable searches
and seizures by law enforcement. Oregon District Attorneys protect this right by
reviewing all cases that are brought to them by law enforcement to ensure that the
police did not exceed their authority and conduct an illegal search.
THE FIFTH AMENDMENT gives defendants the right to remain silent. This right is rooted in the American legal process wherein the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor and the defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law. Oregon District Attorneys protect this right by looking closely at every case for any evidence of a forced statement made by a defendant who had previously invoked his or her right to remain silent.
THE SIXTH AMENDMENT gives defendants the right to a speedy, public and fair jury trial, the right to be represented by an effective attorney and the right to cross-examine witnesses against them. While District Attorneys do not control the judge or the defense attorney, they do everything in their power to protect the defendants’ right to a fair trial. This includes providing any and all information regarding a defendant’s potential innocence to the defense attorney in a timely fashion. DAs are also very careful in their statements to the public about any prosecution so as to further protect the defendants right to a fair trial and an impartial jury.
What is the difference between a Prosecutor and a Defense Attorney?
Many people are not aware of the different roles and obligations of a prosecutor and a defense attorney. The chart below demonstrates the scale of the prosecutor’s obligations as compared to the defense attorney, whose sole obligation is to zealously represent his client, whether or not they are guilty. The prosecutors’ role is to be a minister of justice, which involves much more.
ROLE OF PROSECUTOR
Pursue the truth
Seek Justice, not merely convict
Serve the public interest
Protect the innocent
Hold the guilty accountable
Protect constitutional and legal rights of victims
Protect constitutional and legal rights of defendants
Leader in ensuring a fair and just criminal justice system
Serve the public
Abide by enhanced ethical obligations
ROLE OF DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Zealously represent their client regardless of guilt