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Procedural Law and the Bill of Rights (Essay Sample)
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Procedural Law and the Bill of Rights Student’s Name Institutional Affiliation Introduction Procedural law is also known as adjective law, and it governs the machinery of the court systems and the methods by which both the parties (groups, whether incorporated or not) and the state enforce their rights and freedoms in the many court levels. In procedural law, a clear prescription of enforcing rights and detailing redress of wrongs is provided and further entails rules concerning jurisdiction, representation of counsel, pleading and practice, execution of judgments, bearing of costs, evidence, and appeals. The Bill of Rights is essential in criminal and civil law because it provides the blueprint that is used by all the individual states to protect the rights of own citizens. In this paper, various concepts and principles established in the Bill of Rights are used in providing the foundation of the various sections of the assignment. Sources of Bill of Rights and Fundamental Principles found in the United States Legal System The American Bill of Rights goes back to December 15, 1791 when the Congress transmitted to the state Legislature 12 proposed constitutional amendments. Recommended by James Madison, the Bill of Rights was influenced by the 1689 English Bill of Rights, Magna Carta (which was a political document) the works of the Age of Enlightenment concerning natural rights and the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights. The Virginia Declaration of Rights is an important primary source of rights because it proclaimed the inherent rights of men which included the right to reform or abolish weak government. The contents of the declaration included the relationship between the government and the people being governed. Authored by George Madison, the Virginia Declaration of Rights was famous in the development of the Bill of Rights because it set the tone for freedom and independence. Amendment related to Arrest, Search, and Seizures The Fourth Amendment protects Arrest, search, and seizures. The amendment provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, effects, residential places and papers against unreasonable searches and seizures (Sklansky, 2015). These rights, according to the amendment, shall not be violated unless probable cause has been provided supported by affirmation or oath. The focal and ultimate goal of the amendment is to protect the right of people to freedom and privacy from unreasonable intrusions by law enforcement (Brennan-Marquez & Tutt, 2017). However, not all seizures and searches are protected by the Fourth Amendment. The amendment only protects against seizures and searches conducted by the government and considered unreasonable under the law. In summary, most searches and seizures without warrants of private premises are strongly opposed and prohibited under the Fourth Amendment unless in specific cases. Under the Fourth Amendment, a search takes place when a law enforcement agent or governmental employee violates the reasonable expectation of privacy of an individual (Brennan-Marquez & Tutt, 2017). Within the amendment, the seizure of a person occurs when the conduct of law enforcement would communicate to a reasonable person, taking into account the issues which surround the encounter, which the individual is not free to ignore the law enforcement presence and leave at his will. Concepts of Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion Probable cause and reasonable are crime terminologies commonly used by law enforcement officers and court systems. Probable cause is the logical belief, which is supported by circumstances and facts that criminal activity has been committed, will be determined or is being committed. On the other hand, reasonable suspicion is a reasonable presumption that criminal activity has been undertaken, is being engaged or will be incurred. From these explanations, the outstanding difference between probable cause and reasonable suspicion is that the former (probable cause) means that crime is supported by concrete evidence while reasonable doubt is open to broader and more extensive interpretation. Reasonable suspicion indicates that it “seems” or “appears” that criminal activity is being or has been committed. Reasonable suspicion is therefore often used by law enforcement officers to justify investigations into suspicious activities or behavior when a crime may have been committed. Reasonable doubt is needed by the police to interrogate an individual or to stop him or her. The police may also search for dangerous items like weapons if they believe that the individual presents an imminent threat of bodily harm or if the person is armed. Probable cause, on the other hand, is needed to make an arrest or issue warrants to seize property or search them. Based on the Fourth Amendment which gives freedom from unreasonable seizures and orders, a judge may not issue a search warrant without being convinced of the probable cause. Steps of the Criminal Justice Process The initial phase of the criminal justice system is the making of arrests — the law enforcement officers (police department or sheriff department). A citation can also be provided for an individual or a group of people to appear in court. The arresting officer compiles a report which is then sent to the state or county attorney’s office (Walklate, 2013). The attorney evaluates the evidence, circumstances and the facts of the case before determining whether charges can be filed or not. The second stage is the initial appearance. In most jurisdictions, individuals who are held in custody must be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest (Walklate, 2013). The initial appearance assures that the arrested person was adequately charged, that the affidavit and complaint on the file are accurate, that a proper date has been set for the trial information or preliminary hearing and that an attorney has been appointed for the defendant. The initial appearance also allows for the bail amount to be set if it was not done in the arrest warrant. The third stage of the process is the preliminary hearing of the step where trail information is provided. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is a determination of the sufficiency of the evidence to justify whether the defendant should be held or not (Cole, Smith & DeJong, 2018). The arraignment is the next phase. During the appearance, the defendant is formally accused of the crime committed, and he or she is expected to enter the plea- guilty or not guilty. The defendant may not be present if a written arraignment is filed on their behalf by their defense lawyers. During the arraignment, most of the defendants plead not guilty, and therefore a trial date is set by the judge. Before the next stage which is the trial, the discovery of evidence and selectio...
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