Criminal Procedure Final
Kaplan College- Chula Vista
June 3rd, 2014
The United States of America’s Justice System has many flaws to it, but it is a good system to rely on. The American criminal justice consists of various stages in criminal procedures that are used to determine the innocence or guilt of a suspected and the appropriate sentencing if found after the trial. The United States Fifth Amendment of the constitution states No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. The concept of due process is that the law states the protection and fairness of individual citizens against powers that the states have. According to Marco (2011) the public nature of the legal system is express through due process, which ensures the idea that the government is accountable to the citizens and not the citizens to the government. Due process plays a key role from the public perception because the system must seem fair concerning the legitimacy of the law, legal attorneys, and the courts. Perception of Courts
Today in society many people believe that what you perceive on TV is what the actual court proceedings are in a downtown district court. However this is not the case. Many individuals in society believe that these court proceedings are paid actors or that the judges do not have that type of power. According to McNeely (1995) Research has suggested that a majority of people in the United States receive much of their impressions and knowledge of the criminal justice system through the media, especially through entertainment television viewing. As students and or individuals who understand the criminal justice proceedings without the media we tend to primarily study the features that characterize law enforcement and the legal system. However, I would like to pose a slightly different subject than is usually addressed in this area of study. Before society can draw a meaningful picture of the criminal justice field and law enforcement in society, we must review the nature of public knowledge and the perceptions of social control methods, especially within the criminal justice legal system. To put into other words what is the perception of the criminal justice system within societies or the public’s eyes? How much actual information does the public actually have of the criminal justice system within the United States? In addition, to what degree does the public understand the workings of the system? According to McNeely (1995) despite possible impressions to the contrary, most members of the population actually have few opportunities for direct interaction with the criminal justice system.
The Perception of A criminal Justice Major
From the time I was a kid, I had the perception that the courts that was on television was exactly on how it played out in an actual court room. I had the same perception as everyone who else who does not understand the criminal justice field. As I got older my perception became broader. Before I came into the criminal justice field as my major I had no clue what probable cause was. I did not know how a jury was selected and I did not know what the right of discovery by the defense was. I only saw the black and white of the justice system. The book that was given to us for the criminal procedures class provided information that made more sense to me. On May 6th, 2014 the criminal procedures class of Mr. Gonzales from Kaplan College in Chula Vista took an extraordinary trip to the south bay district court between 3rd and H Street in downtown Chula Vista. At 10:33 a.m. as a class we went into a court room that was headed by Judge Sontag for a preliminary hearing on a charge of Assault with a deadly weapon. My first perception was completely wrong. As I said the media plays a significant role in the perceptions of the courts that are on television and the courts that are real. When we began to proceed into the court room I noticed that the defense attorneys and the prosecution attorney were very cooperative with each. I only saw on tv that the prosecution and the defense attorneys hated each other and were always at each other’s throats. The case that occurred in the court room happened in the San Ysidro port of entry. As soon as court started a witness was called into the court room and was sworn under oath by the Court clerk. She had relayed to the court that she was a police officer for the San Diego Police Department. She also stated what she observed and what she had seen at the time of the scene. The Next on the Witness stand was Mr. Gonzales. After being sworn in by the court clerk He had stated to the court about what had happened the day of the incident. What got my attention in particular was the Defense attorney was trying to slip up Mr. Gonzales in any way he could. The defense attorney kept asking him the same questions, but in different ways. During the trial proceedings I noticed that the bailiff seemed bored during the hearing. Also, I had the perception that all judges were mean and very strict. My perception again was wrong. I noticed that Judge Sontag was interacting with each attorney. Before the hearing began we were outside from the courtroom and saw the defendant sit across from us, but we did not know that he was the defendant. During the court hearing when the defendant entered the room we were all shocked. We kept saying to each other that he was the guy who was sitting next to us outside the courtroom. From observing the preliminary hearing everything changed my perception in the criminal justice system. Perception from the Media
According to McNeely (n.d.) crime and law enforcement television programs have been extremely popular, with consistently high ratings over time. More than a quarter of all prime time shows from the 1960s to the 1990s have focused on themes of crime or criminal justice, which constitute the largest single subject matter on television today, across all types of programming. There are arguments to the effect that television, even when entertaining, is a powerful educational medium. According to McNeely (n.d.) "there must be millions of people who have learned, simply by watching crime dramas in the past few years, that they have the right to remain silent when arrested." The American Civil Liberties Union has likewise said that television crime and law enforcement programs provide an "excellent legal education for the public". On the other hand, many analyst and experts have disagreed with this statement they find television programs to be poor sources of accurate knowledge regarding even the formal operation of the legal system, due to omission and distortion of information and the higher priority of dramatic need. According to McNeely (n.d.) For example, most police crime shows depict a criminal investigation process ending with apprehension, arrest, or violent death of the suspect. The stories often include legal and illegal searches and seizures, and arrested suspects are often "read their rights." Post arrest procedures arraignments, pretrial hearings, jury selection, bonding, plea bargaining, trials, sentencing, etc… and I believe this statement is very true. They do not perceive as a person who does go to court who does actually see a trial going on in front of their face. By portraying the law in this way, television programs make the legal system and the foundation of the law less understandable.
The current situation in the United States is one of a social structure undergoing relatively rapid change in a number of areas in which knowledge of the criminal justice system is a significant issue. According to McNeely (n.d.) Research has shown a strong relationship between heavy television viewing and the cultivation of television-biased perceptions of reality. Overall this experience that we as a class had was a once in a lifetime experience to witness the courts for what they truly are. Like McNeely said not a lot of people have interactions with the criminal justice system. We have to understand that We cannot believe everything we see on television because they do not depict the actual court proceedings between participants. According to Stott (2011) It might not be a free-for-all yet, but the more the you and me believe in the reality of these shows the closer they get to having an effect on the criminal justice system. Society is fascinated with crime and justice. From films, books, newspapers, magazines, television broadcasts, to everyday conversations, we are constantly engaging in crime talk. The mass media plays an important role in the construction of criminality and the criminal justice system. The public’s perception of victims, criminals, deviants, and law enforcement officials is largely determined by their portrayal in the mass media.
Marco, C. (2011, January 1). Due Process Paper. StudyMode. Retrieved May 24, 2014, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Cja-224-Due-Process-Paper-565453.html
McNeely, C. (n.d.). PERCEPTIONS OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: Television Imagery and Public Knowledge in the United States - JCJPC - Volume 3, Issue 1. Connie L. McNeely - PERCEPTIONS OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: Television Imagery and Public Knowledge in the United States - JCJPC - Volume 3, Issue 1. Retrieved May 24, 2014, from http://www.albany.edu/scj/jcjpc/vol3is1/perceptions.html
Stott, K. (2011, January 1). Primetime Crime and Its Influence on Public Perception. . Retrieved May 24, 2014, from http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1243&context=srhonorsprog
Dowler, K. (2003, January 1). Media consumption and public attitudes toward crime and justice- JCJPC, Volume 10, Issue 2. Media consumption and public attitudes toward crime and justice- JCJPC, Volume 10, Issue 2. Retrieved May 24, 2014, from http://www.albany.edu/scj/jcjpc/vol10is2/dowler.html