Constitution - Essay Example

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The Bill of Rights Importance in the Justice System Instructor name Date The foundation of the American criminal justice system is located within the U.S. Constitution, specifically in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution which guarantees every U.S…
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Constitution
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Download file to see previous pages It has become a fundamental right that is universally recognized by the courts and public alike. Under this presumption, defendants are entitled to a presumption of innocence. Defendants do not have to prove their innocence. The government must establish guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ This right and others are outlined in four Amendments, the Fourth which protects against searches and seizures without benefit of a court warrant, in addition to the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth. These aforementioned four Amendments are essential to the U.S. criminal justice system functioning as the framers of the Constitution envisioned it. (Twining v. New Jersey, 1908). The Fifth Amendment guarantees the defendant’s right to ‘due process of law’ and from being subjected to ‘double jeopardy’ or testifying against themselves. Double jeopardy means being put on trial twice for the same offense (U.S. Department of State, 2001). The ‘Miranda Rights’ are covered by the Fifth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment prohibits courts assessing ‘excessive bail’ and implementing ‘cruel and unusual punishments.’ It is the Sixth Amendment that offers the most protection for citizens. Defendants are guaranteed the right to a ‘speedy trial’ and an ‘impartial jury’ by the Sixth Amendment. ...
Today, the courts interpret this Sixth Amendment right to include appointing an attorney for defendants that can’t pay for one. Prior to the Gideon v. Wainwright ruling in 1963, courts had generally understood that legal representation would be appointed in special situations only such as when the defendant was not capable of comprehending the charges brought against them because of a mental deficiency. This was accepted as being fair and just but disregarded the indigent who could not afford legal counsel. Gideon was a compelling affirmation that both groups, those that could not understand the charges and those that did not have the financial means to retain counsel, were at equal disadvantage and that all citizens had a fundamental right to be represented by legal counsel. “The underpinning of Gideon is the notion that a fair trial requires a balance of power, and to the extent that the government spends money in support of the prosecution, it should also spend money on defense” (Black, 1963). The Bill of Rights does not include specific or even ambiguous instructions regarding victim protections. Interestingly, the Sixth Amendment, which outlines the most important rights for the defendant also addresses rights, of sorts, for the victim. Because this Amendment stipulates that the defendant be “confronted with the witnesses against him” (“Bill of Rights”) it allows for victims to confront the person who wronged them. The accused must be able to confront their accuser which cannot happen unless, of course, the victim confronts the accused. Confronting the person who perpetrated the crime is therapeutic for the victim and is a practice that has grown in popularity in recent years. The First Amendment ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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