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Discretion in the criminal trial process

By chapporama Feb 13, 2014 450 Words
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Examine the role of discretion in the criminal trial process Within the criminal trial process, natural tensions ordinarily occur between all participants and procedures of which the system operates, for example Investigation, Trial and Sentencing are three key processes within the criminal justice system that require an appropriate amount of discretion in order to properly and lawfully achieve justice. It is the Polices job to investigate a crime when it is reported, but it is within the Polices discretionary powers to decide whether or not to investigate a particular offence, for example, under the Evidence Act 1995, the police will not investigate allegations of a crime unless the value of the offence is very high. Not every crime will undergo investigation as it is a time consuming and costly process. This job of investigation is under the Polices discretion as their involvement within the criminal trial process is the arrest and charge of the alleged offender. As an investigation continues, the police must judge who should be contacted and what places should be examined for more evidence. Police discretion in this aspect plays a vital role in the sentencing of the suspect as the more evidence gathered for the trial could determine the innocence or guilt of the accused. When the trial process is underway, the judge or magistrate must exercise different levels of discretion. Discretion within the criminal trial process is a very important matter, as the judge or magistrate must exercise appropriate measures in order to reach a just verdict. For example the evidence presented in trial must be approved by the Judge or Magistrate in case the evidence used in court appears inadmissible or prejudicial. The Evidence Act 1995 applies court discretion within the trial process as it allows for the quality of fairness. Without the exercise of impartiality within the trial process the decision made by the jury may alter the final verdict. In addition to the trial process, discretion is also applied within the procedure of sentencing, as the judge’s discretion may or may not determine the outcome of the punishment. Judicial discretion is outlined within the Crimes Act 1900 and gives powers to either the Judge or Magistrate to make some legal decisions according to their discretion. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, judicial discretion allows the judges decision in the sentencing of the offender. However, the exercise of discretion within this area of the criminal trial process can go beyond constraints set down by legislation, as courts may be abusing discretion and undermining the rule of law. Never the less, the judicial discretion within the area of sentencing plays a vital counterpart in the criminal trial process.

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