Does the Right of Privacy Apply to a Person Released on Bail?

Just because a person is made a defendant in a criminal proceeding does not mean that he relinquishes all of his rights, including the right to privacy. However, the right to privacy of a defendant in a criminal action may become limited in several ways.

For one thing, courts have a right to inquire into any aspect of the defendant’s life as long as it is relevant to the issue at hand. And while he does retain the right against self-incrimination, agents of the court may gather evidence about relevant facts of the defendant’s life from other sources. And a defendant cannot validly argue that he has the right to privacy and to be protected against any perceived invasion of his privacy, simply because making the issue a question in a criminal proceeding lends the issue, and the facts pertaining to it, a level of public interest. The key here is that there must be a sufficient showing of relevance to the issue at hand for evidence to be accepted by the courts, and anything made part of a criminal case becomes a matter of public record unless otherwise determined by the judge.

For a person released on bail, he may also retain his right to privacy, subject to certain limitations. A person released on bail is given his freedom upon certain conditions which he is expected to adhere to. These include not to skip bail, to remain in the local jurisdiction, and to adhere to all the other bail conditions that may be imposed by the court, which may include checking in regularly to local authorities or joining treatment programs for certain addictions. To the extent that these conditions limit a defendant’s right to privacy, a person out on bail only has a limited enjoyment of his right to privacy.