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.
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.
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.
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