Category Archives: Pre-Law Articles

Evaluating How the Criminal Justice System Works

Published / by Stephenson

The criminal justice system is basically made up of 3 major institutions that process each case from inception to trial and punishment. Cases are set in motion when law enforcement officers investigate a criminal offence and gather evidence that can be used to pin down the presumed perpetrator. Thereafter, the case is forwarded to the court system, which analyzes the evidence presented before it to establish whether the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

If the defendant is found to be guilty of the alleged crime, a jail term will be prescribed depending on the seriousness of the crime that he/she committed. The corrections system uses several means to punish offenders including probation and incarceration. The correction system similarly aims at rehabilitating those who go through it.

At each stage of the criminal justice process, there are various constitutional protections that have been implemented to guarantee to protection of the rights of the convicted and accused persons. These protections are important since they make it possible for the criminal justice system to carry out investigations and prosecute the accused persons while upholding their fundamental human rights.

1. Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System

The police are an important pillar of the criminal justice system. The constitution protects those who are accused from police abuse and brutality. The Miranda advisement for instance, prohibits law enforcement officers from carrying out unreasonable arrests and searches. In as much as arrested people are aware of pertinent issues such as the right to remain silent, it is the duty of the arresting officers to remind them about these rights before questioning them.

the criminal justice system hard at work

On unreasonable searches and arrests, the Miranda advisement prevents law enforcement officers from arresting a suspect or searching his/her home without a valid warrant. Nonetheless, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, a suspect can be arrested without a warrant in the event that there is a hot pursuit, or the alteration of evidence.

3. The Court System and Bail

Just like it is the case with arresting a suspect, dozens of restrictions pertaining the trial of cases also exist. This includes the right to confront the defendant’s accusers, right to counsel, right against implicating one’s self, and the right to trial by a jury. The role of these safeguards is to ensure that the accused have a fair trial. Besides this, the defendants have the right to choose an attorney of their choice without being restricted by the court.

Before going to trial, the accused may have the chance to post bail. This is what is used to help people get out of jail before any pending trial or sentencing. In the US Constitution, the 8th Amendment explicitly details that bail bonds should not be excessively expensive. There are a few reasons for this, including negating the government’s ability to collect money from a defendant, nor should bail be used to punish a person suspected of committing a crime.

3. Corrections

The role of jails is to punish and rehabilitate criminals. However, this must be done in a human way since they are also protected by fundamental human rights. More often than less, jail terms or probation is used. Offenders who are sentenced to probation are typically those who have committed minor misdemeanors. However, more serious felonies are likely to attract jail terms.

Hope you enjoyed this! If you have any thoughts or comments please let me know.

Texting and Driving is Legal in Texas

Published / by Stephenson

Texting and Driving is Legal in Texas: When Will That Change?

Considering what a conservative state Texas is, I was shocked to learn that there is no state law in Texas that prohibits texting and driving for the general public. I was not just shocked, I was appalled.

After learning about this, I went on the DMV site for Texas and almost laughed at what I read. The page about distracted driver’s states that 23% of car accidents are caused by distracted drivers. After stating that, ironically enough, it lists the laws that Texas has implemented to fix that problem. After reading those laws, I realized that they enabled the problem more than fixing the problem.

The only time that texting and driving is prohibited state wide, is when Texas residents are texting and driving in designated school zones, when a driver is under 18, and when a bus driver is driving. Really? So after a person is 18, or when a bus driver hops into his personal car, he or she is allowed to text and drive? This blows my mind. How is that ok? I understand that it is physically impossible to catch everyone who texts and drives, but that does not mean that Texas should just allow them to do whatever they want. If more people got fined or were given a little bit of jail time for texting and driving, I think that there would be a definite decrease in the number of horrific accidents that happen due to texting and driving.

I am not trying to pick on Texas; I have not researched other states who do not have any general laws banning texting and driving. However, I live in Texas, and I am really disappointed to learn this information. I love Texas, but with us being one of the largest states in America, I would have hoped that we would do a better job of protecting and regulating our citizens, while also being an example to other states.

On a more positive note, there are lot of cities in Texas that ban texting and driving. I was happy to see that major cities like Austin and San Antonio are a part of that group. However, I was extremely disappointed to learn that Houston, one of the largest cities in the United States, does not ban texting and driving. Houston should be the main city that prohibits texting and driving. Dallas, another large city, does not have a law that bans texting and driving as well.

I am trying to be rational and figure out what the logic is behind this. Something that came to mind, was that a lot of people would simply deny that they were texting and driving, or perhaps cops would be easily triggered to stop people all of the time. I don’t know. Regardless, this is a huge safety issue. I think that Texas should make a law that bans texting and driving in all cities. I do not know if this is based off of a Supreme Court ruling that says that cities have the power to make that decision on their own or not. I have to do more research. But if that is not the case, then this needs to be changed; not just in Texas, but in all states. Also, to those of you who text and drive. Please, please, please stop. You are not only putting yourself in danger, but you are also putting the lives of other innocent people in danger. Here is an article about the potential to make texting illegal.

How Do Arrests Work

Published / by Stephenson

An arrest occurs when a police officer apprehends a person suspected of committing a crime. The person under arrest is then taken into custody and they are no longer able to simply walk away. Usually, a person is arrested for being a suspect prior to being formally charged with that crime. Often, when a person is arrested they will also be formally charged. A person cannot go to court and be convicted of a crime without first being arrested and charged with it. Remember, police officers must follow set out rules when arresting a person.

When a person is being apprehended police will search that person. This is done to ensure that they are not carrying a weapon or do not have anything else on their person, like drugs or stolen items. Police may also search the property or car of the person being detained.

A person under arrest still maintains the right to not speak and to have access to an attorney at all times. Police officers must read a person their rights and grant them access to a lawyer.

guy in handcuffs

Once at the station, the police officers will officially take information like the suspects full name and date of birth. This is called being booked and the details of the person being arrested are then formally recorded. The arrested person will also have their fingerprints recorded and their photograph taken.

Then, the suspect may be formally charged with the crime they allegedly committed. The prosecutor must then decide if the apprehended person will be formally charged with committing a crime or not.

If the charges are successfully filed, then that person will need to appear in court. The charges against the alleged criminal will be read out to the courtroom and they have to state if they plead guilty or not guilty.

Depending on the nature of the crime, the person charged may be able to apply for bail. This means that person would pay a set amount of money to the court to get out of jail and ensure that they will go to all mandatory court dates. If bail is refused, that person will stay in police custody until the trial concludes!

Here is another neat article on arrests and how they work. I also wanted to share this video about arrests and excessive force.