Criminal Law Foundations

Every system has a foundation that it builds off of even the criminal justice system. America finds governmental and legal foundations within the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; as time has gone by there have been amendments added to these important documents. These amendments help to support the constitution as well as the Bill of Rights. The Amendments make articles within the Constitution and the Bill of Rights clearer or have modernized the rights making them more relevant to modern times. This paper will discuss the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments and how they are relevant to criminal law in not only adult court but juvenile court. This paper will also discuss the impact that these safeguards have on the daily operations of the court system.

The Amendments The 4th Amendment states:” The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized (The Bill of Rights).”

The fourth Amendment protects people from the government being able to just search a person’s home, records or body without a reasonable assumption of a crime in progress. Once reasonable suspicion has been established the government official must take their case to a judge who will then review the case and issue a warrant for search and seizure. Of course the warrant may not be approved if the judge does not find reasonable suspicion and a list of the evidence that is to be obtained is not listed. Once all of the information is available and the judge agrees with the affidavit then the judge will approve the operation.

The 5th Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation (The Bill of Rights).”

This Amendment protect people whom are to be charged with heinous crimes for once a person is found innocent they can never be charged with the same crime again; although this Amendment does not protect them from civil suits. The 5th Amendment also protects people from incriminating themselves in a court of law, hence the phrase I plea the 5th.

The 6th Amendment states: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense (The Bill of Rights).”

This Amendment protects any person that is accused and is to stand trial in a court of law. With these safe guards in place a person may enjoy the right to a lawyer, a jury of their peers, a speedy trial, the right to face ones accuser, as well as witnesses for the accused. If at any time a person is denied any of these rights their case may be thrown out of the courts and they would be set free.

The Impact The impact of these Amendments within the criminal court system has been huge as well as positive. Before these safe guards were in place Adults and juveniles alike would find that the entire justice process would be for not. Instead of law enforcement needing a warrant to obtain evidence of a crime they would be able to just walk into any home and take whatever they wanted. A person would not be allowed a lawyer for their defense; in essence the criminal justice system would never have evolved in to the system that it is today. These Amendments have to be upheld by the courts judges and it is the judge’s job to ensure that the rights afforded to the defendant are upheld at all times. This is even more so in a juvenile court as juveniles are still tender in age and may not completely understand what is going on or the ramifications of the crime that they have committed. These Amendments ensure that the rights of all people young and old are protected during the course of their criminal cases.

The daily operations of the criminal courts are designed to ensure that the rights of the people are upheld. This is done through various rules and procedures, for example: As the evidence is presented in court and submitted as exhibits the judge will review the case and ensure that the evidence is relevant, collected properly and handled through a chain of custody. This ensures that the evidence is properly acquired and remains untainted, if it is not properly handled or the chain of custody is broken then it is inadmissible and the judge will not allow it in court.

For any reason if these procedures and rules are not followed then the defendant may appeal the case claiming that their rights were violated. If this is the case then the decision of the court will be overturned by the higher court and another trial my take place. If the Amendments were not written then the accused would have to face the sentencing with no way to fight back. This is how innocent people end up in jail and the guilty can go free.

Another impact of these safe guards is if an innocent person were to be found guilty they may request a retrial, or an appeal to try to fight for their freedom. Many innocent people are being set free from prisons today because of groups of lawyers like the innocence project are re-evaluating their cases and filing for retrials or appeals based upon the evidence, lack of evidence, or violation of rights.

There are also other groups like theb NAACP that ensure that people’s rights stay intact by getting involved with the law making process as well as calling the public’s attention to any issues that may come up. These groups are very valuable checks and balances for the criminal justice system. Ensuring that the system is operating in the manner in which it is required by law, and calling attention to it when it is failing. It can be noted that without the Bill of Rights the court system would never have evolved and without the fine people that ensure that the Bill of Rights are being followed the criminal court system may not operate as ethically as it should. Conclusion

Thanks to America’s Bill of Rights as well as the many men and women that work within the court systems, and the many people that work to ensure that people’s rights stay intact our court system operates as well within legal parameters. If at any time a person’s rights are violated there are stop gaps to ensure that this is made right. This is just a small part of why America’s criminal justice system is so great and is in many ways successful. Without these three Amendments in place the system could turn in to utter chaos.

These Amendments are especially important for the juvenile system as these courts deal with minors that may not completely understand their crimes or the process of the courts. The operations of the courts are designed to uphold the rights of any person that is accused of a crime. Everyone involved with the trial is required to ensure that the rights of the accused are upheld. The defense attorney ensures that the rules of the courts are followed and that their client is tried fairly.

The judge runs the show and makes sure that any evidence was legally acquired and is relevant and admissible and the both the defense and prosecuting attorneys are following the rules. So the impact of these Amendments to the court is great but without them our courts would not be great. Even the forefathers believed that it was important to uphold the rights of others: “It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others (Jefferson, 2009).”