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Criminal Procedure: Rights and Authority

Law enforcement officers are tasked with the responsibility of keeping citizens in their community safe from criminal activity. This includes ensuring that the rights of individuals are not violated.

◦Briefly summarize the rules of procedure found in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments.

◦Do you agree that for police to take action, their response must be just, and that they must recognize the rights of individuals while at the same time holding them accountable for their actions as defined by law? Support your position.

◦Have the courts provided adequate protection to citizens against officers who have exceeded their authority? Explain.

◦In which areas of search and seizure do feel that the courts have not gone far enough? Support your position.

◦In which areas do you feel that the courts have gone too far? Support your position.

Solution Preview

OK. I gave you my take on this. It is my opinion only. You need to add your own thoughts and modify what I have stated here to reflect your own views.

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Law enforcement officers are tasked with the responsibility of keeping citizens in their community safe from criminal activity. This includes ensuring that the rights of individuals are not violated.

Briefly summarize the rules of procedure found in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments.

The Fourth Amendment states that citizens should be secure in their possessions. Thus, the state does not have the right to search or seize one's property except when legitimate probable cause of a crime exists. For this to be formalized, a warrant from the judicial authority is needed.

The Fifth deals, first, with the institution of a grand jury. This is a collective body, independently of the court, that engages in investigation concerning the possibility of a crime. This body decides whether or not the evidence is capable of a trial. The only exception to this is military personnel in times of emergency. Second, no one can be tried for the same offense twice (to avoid politically motivated trials where, once the accused is set free, he is rearrested for the same crime until the courts "get it right"). Third, no one accused of a crime need say anything. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. Fourth, nothing can be taken of the property or the person of a citizen without "due process," that is, a fair investigation, an unbiased trial and an intelligent decision as to guilt. Property cannot be taken for public use, that is, for the use of the federal or any other government, unless the owner is paid.

The Sixth Amendment is purely procedural. The trial of a defendant must be "speedy," that is, it cannot be dragged out while the citizen either sits in a holding cell or lives in legal limbo. The jury must be impartial and represent the locale where the crime was committed. The defendant must be given a full description of the charges. Anonymous denunciations are out of the question: all defendants must be able to face and question those who accuse them. In addition, a lawyer's services must be provided and a method of bringing witnesses to the defense of the accused must be enforced. Coercion here can be used if necessary under the term "subpoena."

The Fourteenth Amendment is the result of the Union victory in the Civil War. Southern states were forced to accept it, lest they would not be admitted to Congress. Section 1 states that citizens have the right to everything that pertains to the status of citizenship. All citizens enjoy the equal protection of the law. In plainer language, no caste, racial or class criteria can be used when applying the law to a specific case. Section 2 holds that the right to vote, for males over 21 years old, cannot be infringed with the exception of those convicted of serious crimes. In the creation of legislative districts, all human males are counted as equal, regardless of their racial or class status. Section 3 holds that anyone convicted of treason cannot hold any public office. Section 4 stresses that the federal government will not question legitimate debts. The only time this debt will not be assumed is if it was incurred due to illegal activity. In the text, it states "insurrection" or "losses" from the "emancipation of any slave." In a way, this is the origin of the "Clean Hands" doctrine, which states that one cannot seek redress in the courts if you are a criminal yourself and implicated in the crime over which you are pursuing justice. Finally, Section 5 states that any law passed by the legislative branch that serves to enforce any of these provisions is legitimate. In other words, these concepts of voting, debt and citizenship are not centralized in Washington.

Do you agree that for police to take action, their response must be just, and that they must recognize the rights of individuals while at the same time holding them accountable for their actions as defined by law? Support your position.

Last time I checked, police are also individuals, and as such, actually possess rights. They are not machines that can be programmed to do what politicians want. They face well-armed drug dealers, gangs and criminals ...

Solution Summary

The rights and authority for criminal procedures are determined.

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