Constitution of the United States and the Fourth Amendment

The method by which law enforcement should treat people is based on the Bill of Rights section of the Constitution of the United States. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable search by law enforcement. Police must show evidence, that a threat to public safety exists, and probable cause that a crime is, or will be, committed for courts to issue a search warrant.

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The details of the what, where, when and whom they are searching must be provided. Items that can be retrieved from a search are evidence involved or used in a crime, or illegal to possess. During the search the police must adhere to the specifics of the search warrant. A police officer can conduct a search without a warrant if the individual was under arrest, but then the police officer can search only the area where the arrest took place or if the person voluntarily consented. An auto search does not require a search warrant, but only the area near the suspect can be searched. If there is any evidence in plain sight, then the Plain View Doctrine allows the officer to commence a search of the vehicle. Police can arrest an individual for the purpose to detain them on criminal charges if they have probable cause.

According to the Fifth Amendment, criminal defendants have the right to remain silent and is a right against self-incrimination. Police must advise suspects of their rights before asking them questions while in custody. In addition, suspects must be advised that anything that they do say can be used against them in court, that they have the right to an attorney, and that if they cannot afford an attorney, they will be provided one by the state. Miranda Law changed how interrogations are conducted and police no longer can use any illegal forms of coercion. The Constitution protects the individual’s right to be respected and treated humanely. Whether a police officer followed the law in an arrest, search, or any other police activity is the court’s final decision. In this country, the criminal justice system has a set of values which protects the rights of individuals. Police in the United States cannot even temporarily detain a person without having at least reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. They cannot make an arrest unless they have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. In countries where there is no rule of the law, a person can be arrested just on suspicion of a crime. They have no rights and can be tortured or inhumanely treated. The American Court System ensures that all people get a fair trial.

The Sixth Amendment states “a jury of one’s peers” is to be representative of a cross-section of the community. By using a jury of the “average person” it reflects values, attitudes, and a range of views from different occupations, education, age, gender, cultural, and social backgrounds. The diversity of the jurors can lead to more discussion among the juries and reduces bias. Most jurors are not proficient in criminal law, but I would take my chances with a jury of my peers. Today’s jurors may not be a true representation of the average person because people can excuse themselves from jury duty. Many people who serve on a jury include retired, unemployed, or homemakers, which is only a certain sector of society, and may not be a valid cross selection of society. Parole and probation officers deal with convicted criminals. Parole officers specifically deal with criminals who have served a prison sentence, while probation officers specifically help convicted criminals who have been granted probation without serving time in prison. Probation is a court-ordered period of supervision in the community, used as an alternative to jail or prison.

Probation is ordered when the circumstances and seriousness of the crime suggest that the probationer is not a threat to society, and that incarceration is not an appropriate punishment. Parole is granted after an offender has served a portion of his or her prison sentence, is placed under the supervision of a parole agency, and is required to observe the conditions of parole. Thus, parole differs from probation in that it is not an alternative sentence, but rather a privilege granted to some prisoners after a percentage of their sentence has been served. Most states limit parole to inmates convicted of certain crimes and served a certain percentage of their sentence. Offenders who have been convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, rape, arson, or drug trafficking are not eligible for parole. Parole will be granted if there is no apparent threat to public safety, and the inmate is willing and able to re-enter the community. The advantages of early release from prison include cost reductions to operate prisons, increase employment and pay taxes, more self-reliant, the opportunity for rehabilitation, family and community support. Disadvantages of probation or parole could be the lack of comparative punishment to the crime. There could be an increase in social costs and risk to the community. There are advantages and disadvantages to probation and parole.

Although I feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The cost to house a prisoner is extremely high which creates a financial burden on society. If the defendant was released early, they could gain employment, pay taxes, and provide for themselves and family. A defendant would have access to family and community support, and therefore could reduce the chances of committing a crime again. If a prisoner convicted of a sexual crime is paroled, or on probation, they are required to register as a means of enabling the law to manage the serious risk factor to the public. In the case of a probationer or parole who violates their probation, the officer can make a judgement call to start the revocation process. The process is like a trial except only a judge hears and decides on the case. The defendant does not have the same protections under the Fifth Amendment with this process. Rules that apply to law enforcement, normally do not apply for probation officers. You are subject to search in your home, car, or person without a warrant. Criminals must pay their debt to society for their crimes, but they still have rights.

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