Criminal Evidence

1. Identify several sources of rights.

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people. There are many types of rights in our society. In addition to the Constitution, court decisions and statutes are important sources of rights, and so are state constitutions. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure sometimes shed light on and clarify important rulings handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, the Federal Rules set forth the criminal procedure guidelines that federal criminal justice practitioners are required to abide by.

2. What is the incorporation controversy?

The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which holds that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” has been used by the Supreme Court to make certain protections specified in the Bill of Rights applicable to the states. This is known as incorporation.

3. What rights have been incorporated? What rights have not?

There are four leading views on the incorporation debate. First, the total incorporation perspective hold that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the entire Bill of Rights. The second leading view on incorporation is that of selective incorporation, which favors incorporation of certain protections enumerated in the Bill of Rights, not all of them. The third view on incorporation can be termed total incorporation plus. It holds that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the whole Bill of Rights as well as additional rights not specified in the Constitution, such as the “right to privacy.”

4. In what ways can theory differ from reality?

We are taught that the courts and the Supreme Court in particular are charged with interpreting the Constitution and laws of the United States. We are further taught that law enforcement should accept such interpretation uncritically and without much thought or reflection. While this is mostly true, theory and reality can still differ for at least four reasons. First, the Supreme Court sometimes makes decisions on excruciatingly detailed matters which have almost no applicability to most law enforcement officers most of the time. Second, the Supreme Court frequently hands down restrictive decisions that would seem to alter the face of law enforcement forever, but that involve issues already addressed by many police agencies. Third, the courts sometimes hand down decisions that can be effectively circumvented or ignored by the police. Finally, what the courts say and the police do can differ simply as a consequence of this nation’s legal system.

5. Compare and contrast the due process and crime control perspectives.

The two models of crime that have been opposing each other for years are the due process model and the crime control model. The due process model is the principle that an individual cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property without appropriate legal procedures and safeguards. Any person that is charged with a crime is required to have their rights protected by the criminal justice system under the due process model. The crime control model for law enforcement is based on the assumption of absolute reliability of police fact-finding, treats arrestees as if they are already found guilty.

6. Explain the federal court structure.

The structure of the federal courts consist of the Supreme Court, the Federal Courts of Appeal, and the Federal District Courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the federal system because it hears appeals from state courts as well as federal courts. The Supreme Court has nine justices and begins its term on the first Monday in October of each year. The Supreme Court hears most cases on appeal. If four of the nine Justices agree to issue a writ, the Court will hear the case. The Court also has...
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