Ethics in Criminal Procedure
CRJ 306: Criminal Law & Procedure
Instructor: Carolyn Davis
September 15, 2011
Ethics in Criminal Procedure
No matter what profession an individual is in all of them have a code of ethics. Individuals that are in a position of power such as judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and police officers can have a profound effect on our lives as they make tremendous crucial decisions every day. Members of the criminal justice system have a code of ethics that they must follow, for example, because a judge that makes an unethical decision could mean a defendant could lose his freedom for a crime that he did not commit. According to (Tucker, 2014) she indicated that “depending on one’s specific occupation within the criminal justice system, ethics will likely govern one’s interactions with law-breakers, influence one’s decision-making processes and affect one’s interpretation of the law.” Defense attorneys who represent the defendants have an ethical standard to represent their clients fair and to make sure that their clients do not offer false testimony. Ethical standards have to be maintained by the prosecutor to provide honest, accurate testimony and supporting evidence to justify their claims. When it comes to a police officer it is unethical for them to assault, badger or threaten a suspect just to get a confession; and as mentioned, ethics is more important to a judge than any other criminal justice official because they are expected to “protect principles of conduct defined by the Constitution” (Tucker, 2014. There is an enormous degree of expectations placed upon the aforesaid criminal justice practitioners than any other profession and it must be noted that the vast majority of them are dedicated individuals who strive to serve the public.
Ethics can be defined in many ways. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1991) indicates that “Professionally right or befitting; conforming to professional standards of conduct.” “All professionals of the criminal justice system have a duty to play a positive role towards the administration of justice in accordance with the law, with competence and integrity” (LSC, 2014). It is very essential for professionals in the legal system to provide proficient assistance to the courts and to deal with other legal practitioners with courtesy and integrity.
There is an unwritten law amongst police officers that is a major ethical issue within the criminal justice system. The Blue Code of Silence is used throughout our country by officers of the law to not report on the errors, crimes and misconduct of one of their police co-workers. According to this unwritten code, if an officer snitches on another officer about an incident of misconduct, the officer that is being interrogated will state that he is unaware of that officer’s wrongdoing. For the most part, the majority of police officers is law-abiding and dedicated individuals; however, there is that one bad apple in every bunch that will give that police department a bad name. “For the last five decades there has been less than 300 offices that have been convicted of crimes such as dealing drugs, beating suspects, destroying evidence, abusing authority, protecting mobsters, theft and murder and more than 90 of the convictions have taken place since 2000” (Blood, 2013). Ethics can mean doing the right thing and the principle that right is right and wrong is clearly wrong and a police office should adhere to the highest ethical standard and that their badge is a symbol of the public’s trust.
On August 9, 2014, an unarmed black teen was shot and killed by a six year veteran cop in Ferguson, Missouri. Six days later the police chief in that town now states that 18 year old Michael Brown has been identified as one of two alleged suspects of stealing a box of cigars worth $48.99 in a convenient store earlier that morning. Could this now be a case of “The Blue Code of Silence” wherein...
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