Due Process Law and Legal Definition

The due process guarantees under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution Clause provide that the government shall not take a person's life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The due process clause of the 5th Amendment applies to the federal government and the 14th Amendment applies to the states. Due process involves both procedual and substantive aspects. Procedural due process requires fairness in the methods used to deprive a person of life, liberty or property, while substantive due process requires valid governmental justification for taking a person's life' liberty or property. Due process requirements apply to both criminal and civil law.

Due process generally requires fairness in government proceedings. A person is entitled to notice and opportunity to be heard at a hearing when they have life, liberty. or property at stake. Laws should be applied to persons equally, without discrimination on prohibited grounds, such as gender, nationality, handicap, or age. In criminal cases, fair procedures help to ensure that an accused person will not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, which occurs when an innocent person is wrongly convicted. Due process requirements apply to such government proceedings as trials, parole hearings, and administrative hearings involving benefits, among others.

For example, when a person's home is in danger of tax foreclosure, the notice of delinquency is required to be sent within a certain time period and the person must be allowed to pay the full amount owed before it is sold to a third party. If there is an error in taxation or the person wishes to contest the appraisal, an appeals process is available.