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In Miranda v. Arizona (1966) The Court reasoned that custodial interrogations are coercive in nature due to the adversarial nature of the criminal justice system and thus certain protections must be put in place in order to ensure that a suspect is not forced to incriminate himself unwillingly. In Escobedo v Illinois (1960) the court noted that there was a clear imbalance of power shifted towards police in custodial interrogations.
Furthermore, the Court states, “the interrogators sometimes are instructed to induce a confession out of trickery” (Miranda v. Arizona). The 5th Amendment protects individuals from incriminating themselves during questioning, and therefore due to the nature of police interrogations the Court has asserted that suspects need to be afforded procedural safeguards to protect the privilege against making self-incriminating statements that may be elicited through coercion during such interrogations and that such safeguards need to be fully honored by the police.
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The police must inform a suspect who has entered the accusatory stage of the investigation process that he has the right to remain silent. The Court explains, “for those unaware of the privilege, the warning is needed simply to make them aware of it—the threshold requirement for an intelligent decision as to its exercise. More important, such a warning is an absolute prerequisite in overcoming the inherent pressures of the interrogation atmosphere” (Miranda v. Arizona).
Here the Court emphasizes that the right to remain silent is inherent in the right against self-incrimination and the majority further explain that by providing this warning, the police are demonstrating they are willing to honor this right if the suspect chooses to exercise it. Moreover, “the warning of the right to remain silent must be accompanied by the explanation that anything said can and will be used against the individual in court” (Miranda v. Arizona). The majority explains that this explanation is used to make sure the individual is aware of the consequences that accompany a decision not to remain silent and to ensure that the individual is able to make an informed decision with the understanding that he is facing an adversarial system in which the police and prosecutor are not acting in his best interest.
Furthermore, the Court reasons that any individual held for questioning has the right to an attorney once he enters the accusatory stage of the investigation process. The Court elaborates by stating that by having an attorney present, the attorney is capable of making sure that an individual under interrogation is making informed choices and at the same time they are ensuring that the police are honoring the privilege against self-incrimination and are not attempting to coerce a confession out of a suspect.
It is quite evident that the Court believes that once counsel is present the police will not attempt to act in a coercive manner. Finally, the Court insists that if an individual cannot afford an attorney and they request one, then they will be provided with government appointed counsel. The Court claims that it incredibly important for indigent individuals to have access to counsel given that they are the least likely to be aware of their rights, and most likely to be coerced into a confession without a full understanding of their 5th Amendment privileges.
I am in agreement with the Court’s ruling in Maryland v. King (2013). By holding that DNA can be taken from individuals upon arrest for the purpose of “identification” without a warrant the Court was merely approving a more effective method of obtaining information about potentially dangerous offenders than provided by fingerprinting. In Katz v. U.S (1967), the Court stated that the 4th Amendment protects people, not places.
The majority also established a rule in order to determine whether or not a search/seizure violated the 4th Amendment. This “expectations of privacy” rule explains that whenever an individual has an expectation of privacy in which society acknowledges as a reasonable one, then the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures applies. In U.S v. Jones (2012), the Court explained that the In U.S. v. Jones, the Court applied this expectation of privacy rule to property and effects as well. Therefore, this rule and the physical trespass standard adopted in Olmstead v. U.S. (1928) are used to measure the constitutionality of searches and seizures.
Based on this understanding of 4th Amendment protections, it is necessary to assess whether or not society as a whole, believes that individuals who are in police custody are still deserving of the same level of protection as regular citizens, or if their level of protection is diminished upon arrest. In Bell v. Wolfish (1979), the Court maintained, “simply because prison inmates retain certain constitutional rights does not mean that the rights are not subject to restrictions and limitations” (Bell v. Wolfish retrieved Lexus Nexus).
In Prince v Johnston (1948), the Court asserted, “Lawful incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and rights, a retraction justified by the considerations underlying our penal system” (Prince v. Johnston, retrieved from Lexus Nexus). Furthermore, in Bell v. Wolfish, the Court explains that there must be an “accommodation between institutional needs and objectives and the provisions of the Constitution that are of general application” (Bell v Wolfish, retrieved from Lexus Nexus).
Finally the Court, in Bell v. Wolfish, declares, “this principle applies equally to pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. A detainee simply does not possess the full range of freedoms of an un-incarcerated individual” (Bell v. Wolfish, retrieved from Lexus Nexus). It is clear from these precedents that people who are incarcerated or detained are afforded a lesser degree of constitutional protection than society as a whole and that their rights are diminished in order for the penal system to operate properly in the United States.
The government has a compelling interest in deterring crime and punishing criminals. The safety of the public is arguably the number one priority and therefore, law enforcement officials need to be given the latitude to preform their duties as effectively as possible. Using DNA, as a means to identify an individual in custody is different from the use of GPS tracking a public vehicle or wiretapping a public phone booth because in those cases law enforcement invaded the property of an individual and violated his expectation of privacy.
However, DNA identification like fingerprinting is only used by the police in order to document individuals who have committed a crime and to determine whether or not they have been involved in any other unsolved offenses. The use of DNA and fingerprint analysis is also used as a means of evaluating how dangerous a particular offender may be and to examine any prior criminal offenses. These tactics may be considered intrusive but given the fact that detained individuals are not afforded the same degree of protection as society as a whole, whether or not this is truly of concern appears irrelevant.
Furthermore, it is intrusive in a different sense then some of the other techniques used by law enforcement. The risk of trespass or breaching a normal expectation of privacy becomes insubstantial due to the fact that individuals who are fingerprinted or have their DNA tested are in police custody. They have lost the freedom that regular citizens possess and as a result their property and effects are subsequently seized and under the control of the authorities.
The use of this database is used only in order to advance the compelling government interests of keeping the public safe and punishing criminals. The use of DNA identification doesn’t serve the purpose of monitoring society at large or to keep tabs on people who are just going about their business. It has one direct purpose and that it to ensure that law enforcement officers and the criminal justice system in the United States is able to be as effective as possible.
Obtaining and using DNA for identification without a warrant is significantly different from the warrantless search of a cell phone that was at issue in Riley v. California (2014). In Riley v. California, the Court held that searching a cell phone without a warrant did not satisfy any of the required exceptions for a warrantless search given that there were multiple ways to preserve the loss of evidence on the device until a warrant can be obtained and a cell phone poses no threat to officer safety.
Furthermore, the Court reasoned that a cell phone has a vast amount of personal information stored on it and they equate it to a “micro-computer.” Due to the extensive information on cell-phones the Court states that there is a significant privacy concern and thus a warrant is necessary to search them. DNA identification on the other hand, only provides law enforcement officials with the necessary information regarding the individual in custody and allows them to perform their duties more efficiently and ensures that individuals who may have previously gotten away with a crime in the past is, is held accountable.
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