Is it fair in denying people the right to be legally represented because of the fact that they may have committed a very serious crime?

A larger percentage of the community may be of the opinion that those who are alleged to have committed serious offences should not be given representations. Often as Criminal Lawyers in Sydney we are asked “how can you morally represent someone charged with that offence”?

This short articles provides a means to attempt to address the stigma associated with human rights and the presumption of innocence.


As known to us, Australia is part of seven core international human rights treaties. These human rights treaties provide to us an agreed set of human rights standards for everyone to be treated equally and fairly. These can be found byu clicking here. Equality before the law is a very fundamental concept of our legal system in Australia.

What Are Human Rights? 

Human rights are rights which are inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

In the case of Muir v R [2004],  Justice Michael Kirby states that:

‘Prisoners are human beings.. They should, so far as the law can allow, ordinarily have the same rights as all other persons before this Court. They have lost their liberty whilst they are in person. However… they have not lost their human dignity or their right to equality before the law.’


What is the presumption of innocence?

You’ve surely heard the saying “Innocent until proven guilty”. To explain this saying in detail –  The presumption of innocence imposes on the prosecution the burden of proving the charge and guarantees that no guilt can be presumed until the charge has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The presumption of innocence is contained in article 14(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The right to the presumption of innocence is one of the guarantees in relation to legal proceedings. The other guarantees are the right to a fair trial and fair hearing, and minimum guarantees in criminal proceedings, such as the right to counsel and not to be compelled to self-incriminate.

Article 11 of the ICCPR states that everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

From a Defence Lawyers perspective

There are people in the wider community that question as to how Criminal Defence Lawyers represent people who have committed crimes of murder or rape? The answer can be as simple as this is their job, to put aside the bias and to protect the rights of people and their clients equally. If you choose the right lawyer you will understand that they do not pick and choose clients depending on the offence. According to the Legal Professional Uniform Law, a solicitor must also act in the best interests of a client in any matter in which the solicitor represents the client

In our previous article “Tips on choosing a Sydney Criminal Lawyer we identified that when choosing a lawyer you should ensure that this lawyer has a passion for criminal law and human rights. You don’t want a lawyer that is just doing their job representing you. You need a lawyer that loves their work and will listen to your story, show interest and fight for you. Look for a lawyer that is interested in defending your human rights”.

To ensure that a Solicitor provides equality before the law for their client they must act neutral. Being conscious of any possible personal biases or prejudices about people from different backgrounds and ensuring that they do not treat anyone with a stereotype, and/or make false assumptions about a particular individual based on what they believe most people from that individual’s group value, or based on how they believe most people from that individual’s group behave


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