Chapter 8 CORR 106
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Popular in Introduction to Criminal Justice Systems
Popular in Criminology and Criminal Justice
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Date Created: 03/14/16
2: Chapter 6- Court Room Participants and the Trial Wednesday, March 02, 2016 4:56 PM Reading: The Adjudication Process The legal philosophy of the criminal justice system is that the trial is a combative encounter between the state and the defendant Trials seek to establish the guilt of the defendant and to determine appropriate punitive sanctions Police officers seek to have the most serious charges possible filed against defendants, whereas prosecutors seek charges for which they can get a guilty plea or verdict Jurisdiction Civilian criminal trials occur in federal court when the offense is a violation of federal law and in state or local courts when the offense is a violation of state or local law Trial occurs in a district court with jurisdiction over the offense when the offense is a federal felony Trials in Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Usually concern misdemeanor crimes, violations of criminal traffic laws, and lesser offenses o Ex. assault, disorderly conduct, trespassing Defendant usually arrested by local police officer and appears before the court for a trial within a few weeks Defendant often not guaranteed right to an attorney (punishment often doesn't exceed threshold at which the government must provide defendants) No transcript is made of the proceedings Not jury trials, judge renders an immediate decision following the conclusion of the arguments o Defendant has the right to appeal the decision Each local or municipal court has its own distinctive procedures depending on factors such as the legal training of the judge, judicial resources of the municipality or county, and number of cases the court hears Trials in Courts of General Jurisdiction and Federal District Courts Most felony criminal trials occur in state courts of general jurisdiction or US district courts Number of state criminal trials is much higher than federal trials First decision made when a person is arrested for a felony crime is which court has jurisdiction o Guidelines include which laws were violated and the geographic location of the crime Crime violates both federal and state laws, criminal made be tried in either or both courts Federal and state laws are different so being tried in both does not count as double jeopardy o Usually whichever court has the stronger case takes the trial Federal courts claim jurisdiction for crimes commited in the US and its territories For a state court to have jurisdiction , all or part of the crime must have been committed within the state Violation of the laws of several states is not considered the "same crime" and each state retains jurisdiction o See example page 122 Charges and Proceedings before Trial Citizens must be informed of the charges against them before they are tried in a court of law Arresting and booking o Formally charges them of the crime Joint activity of the police and the prosecutor o The process of bringing the defendant to trial Deciding which court the defendant will be arraigned in Determining the Charges: the Police and the Prosecutor Law enforcement officer files a report charging the person with a crime o Booking Magistrate reviews the charges and determines that the police have filed constitutional charges and provided rights Police and prosecutor work together to bring the case to trial; the prosecutor has the final authority in determining the charges and prosecuting the defendant Due Process Government must present evidence to an impartial judicial body that a crime has been committed and that there is reasonable belief the person accused committed the crime Prosecutorial Discretion Proceed with case or drop it? o Enough evidence? o About 16% of cases are dropped Modifying charges o Dropping some or all of the charges o Adding additional charges o Reducing the charges Prosecutorial discretion: the power of prosecuting attorneys that allows them to be in charge of the case Relationship between Prosecutor and Law Enforcement Important in the factor of the decision whether or not a case stands trial Arraignment The prosecutor must present evidence to the court that the defendant should be tried for the offense at the arraignment Final stage before trial o Charges filed at this time are the charges which the defendant will be tried for during trial First time when the defendant is asked to plea guilty or not guilty Competency to Stand Trial This is the responsibility of the court to determine that the defendant is competent to stand trial prior to the trial o Means that the defendant can comprehend the charges against them and is able to assist counsel in their defense o Health is one common reason why someone may not be competent Disease, current medical treatment, etc. Bail the mechanism to provide for the pretrial release of a defendant Roots in English history A system of pretrial release of the accused in a criminal proceeding based on a guarantee by the accused, or a bail bonds agent, that the accused will appear in court as required Not guaranteed bail; however, eighth amendment states simply that excessive bail should not be required (has been interpreted that bail is required) Controversy over bail has been centered on the following factors: 1 What is excessive bail? 2 When can bail be denied? 3 Does the bail system discriminate against the poor? Excessive Bail Must be based on standards relevant to guaranteeing that the defendant will not take advantage of his or her freedom and flee prior to the trial Consider factors: seriousness of the crime, defendant's prior criminal record, defendant's financial status, etc. Court can initially refuse to grant bail and later agree to grant bail Denial of Bail If pretrial release could pose a potential danger to society Danger laws allowed the court to deny bail for certain offenses in which public safety could be a concern o Allegations of murder, organized crime and gang crime, and drug trafficking o 1984 federal Bail Reform Act provided this authority to federal judges Defendant must prove that he or she is not a flight risk and is not a danger to people or the community, if cannot meet proof he or she is then denied bail Discrimination against the Poor Poor may spend more time in jail awaiting trial than the length of sentence they receive at the end of the trial o When this happens, defendants are credited with time already served and are released Bail discrimination doesn't allow the poor to receive the same quality of justice as the rich Alternatives to cash bail system for this reason The Bail Bonds Agent An agent of a private commercial business that has contracted with the court to act as a guarantor of the defendant's return to court US is the only country other than the Philippines to use a commercial for- profit business independent of the judicial system to secure bail for a defendant Acts as an intermediary and posts the bond for the accused Defendant pays fee and the agent guarantees to the court that the defendant will show up for all scheduled court appearances o Fee is nonrefundable Can refuse to underwrite the bail if they do not believe the defendant is a good risk Bond Jumpers and Bounty Hunters A person who fails to appear for a court appearance is said to have "jumped bond" o Court allows bail bonds agent a certain amount of time to return the defendant to the custody of the court before revoking the posted bond o Bail bonds agent can track down and bring back the bond jumper Does not need an arrest warrant to enter a private residence where the defendant has sought refuge and can trespass anywhere the defendant is hiding Agents have greater powers than police officers in the pursuit of bond jumpers Alternatives to Cash Bond Release on recognizance (ROR) means to secure the pretrial release of the accused based merely on the defendant's unsecured promise that he or she will return for trial o Mostly appropriate for nonviolent offenses Unsecured bond releases the defendant from incarceration after he or she signs a promissory note to pay the court a predetermined amount similar to a cash bail bond if he or she does not fulfill the promise Signature bond is commonly used for minor offenses such as traffic law violations o Similar to ROR but much simpler o No prequalification's for a signature bond and no one makes an assessment of the defendant's flight risk or danger to the community o Allows police to release the accused immediately after they are charged with the offense if he or she signs a promise to appear in court Conditional release and third-part custody require the defendant to agree to a number of court ordered terms and restrictions o Ex. Participation in drug treatment programs, attendance at anger management classes, regular employment, etc. Pros and Cons Percentages of releases, see page 128 Plea Bargaining 97% of federal cases and 94% of state cases are disposed of by this method without ever going to trial Police and victim often object to pleas but the prosecutor must make the best use of the resources of his or her office Offender typically not punished the full extent of the law Time and Cost Prosecutors have limited staff and budget and cannot take every case to trial and are responsible for the trial preparation that bears the majority of the costs Prosecutors must select which defendant to take to trial and which to offer plea bargains Community Interest Professional decision as how to best serve the community interests with limited departmental resources Pleas help free up more time for more difficult cases Plea bargaining most benefits major criminals, such as major burglars, serial rapists and drug dealers who continue to commit crimes Clearing Cases Not having sufficient evidence to convict a defendant for all of the crimes they have committed o Ex. Prosecutor agrees to charge the defendant with only a single burlgary in return for a confession to 300 burglaries Police and prosecutor are able to "clear" the other 299 burglaries Accepting offer allows the police and prosecutor can report a higher clearance rate to the public Questionable Confidence in the Case Ex. Witnesses not being able to testify because of fear gives doubt for a strong case Makes prosecutor reluctant to take the case to trial Initiation of Plea Bargaining Can be initiated by the prosecuting or defending attorney at many different points in the process up until the jury renders a verdict Dropping more serious charges often follows with the defendant offering their guilty plea Seldom involves the victim Sentence Bargaining Defendant seeks leniency Defendant may offer to plead guilty to the charges in return for the prosecutor's recommendation to the judge for a minimum sentence Defendants want to negotiate how long, where, and the security level of their time Judge must approve any negotiation Effective Counsel in Plea Bargaining Law Defendants have the right to counsel at critical points in the criminal justice process Revised in Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Coope and extended the constitutional rights of criminal defendants to effective counsel during plea negotiations Rulings allow defendants to question their lawyers failings to appeal a conviction to the Supreme Court Many states have adopted harsh penalties that make plea bargains appear "attractive" o Trial penalty refers to the fact that the sentences for people who go to trial have grown harsher relative to sentences for those who agree to a plea The Right to a Speedy Trial For a case to come to trial it must be placed on the court docket, or calendar The sixth amendment that guarantees that defendants will receive a speedy trial does not define what constitutes as "speedy" Statute of limitations is the length of time between the discovery of the crime and the arrest of the defendant (is defined) o Different crimes have different acceptable times The 6th amendment Right to a Speedy Trial Incorporated in the Supreme Court in 1967 Definition differs between states Court took view that speedy trial is a relative matter an may vary in length of time from arrest of trial because of the circumstance of the case Ex. Klopfer v. North Carolina page 130 o Interpretation of the right to a speedy trial changed o Prosecutor used uncertainty as a strategy against Klopfer o Supreme Court found it necessary to review cases in which some state defendants failed to receive a speedy trial The Speedy Trial Act of 1974 Turned concert of bringing all cases to trial in a timely manner or risk losing the ability to prosecute into a crisis Required a specific deadline between arrest and trial in federal courts o Defendant would be brought to trial within 100 days of their arrest or the charges court be dismissed and could not be reinstated "clock" stops with some circumstances Rules of Evidence Procedural laws or administrative rules that influence law enforcement and court practices o Define how trial will be conducted, etc. o Deviation constitutes a judicial error which is what leads to appeals o Each state court and the federal courts have different rules of evidence o Regulate nearly every aspect of trial Duties and Rights of Participants Power of the Judge If a judge believes an attorney, either defense or prosecution or any other participant has violated a professional standard of conduct during the trial, they can impose a fine or term of imprisonment for contempt of court o Can occur to the public, jury and members of the media Gag order: the evidence, witnesses or proceedings of the court may not be published or discussed publicly Bench Trial Occurs when the judge determines the outcome, guilty or not Judge acts as impartial mediator Courtroom Security Provided by sheriff's deputies in state courts and by deputy US marshals in federal courts o Both are called bailiffs Protects court personnel The Defendant Does not have to testify Can be their own attorney o discourages Indigent Defendants A defendant who cannot afford a private attorney Required to complete a financial statement and submit it to the court which is examined and decides if the defendant is eligible for an indigent defense About half of all criminal defendants Defense services are a substantial expense in the criminal justice system Jury Service Citizens required to perform jury duty Fair, competent, and able to serve Jury of One's Peers Required by the constitution that the jury is "of the defendants peers" Representatives of the community Exemptions from Jury Duty Paid for jury duty by the government Each jurisdiction determines the rules for excusing citizens from jury service, but the rules ust not discriminate against a person because of race, gender, or other characteristics that are in violation of the law o Ex. Taylor v. Louisiana page 135 Jury Requirements There are penalties including fines and jail time for those who unlawfully avoid jury duty and for anyone, such as employers, who interfere with citizens to prevent them from fulfilling their civic duties Conclusion: Justice is the Goal Police charges are suggestions to the prosecutor Decision of guilt is decided at a trial Trial is conflict between the prosecutor and the defense Procedure and rules to trial are well defined Notes off PowerPoint: People to know o Defendant Accused of committing the crime o Defense Attorney One by phone book, public defender Public defender if its juvenile or .. o Bailiff Armed officer usually from sheriff's department o Jury May or may not be Decides beyond reasonable doubt if a defendant is guilty o Witness Lay Saw incident happen Expert Testify to more than just facts o Judge Neutral party o Clerk of court Orders, sets hearings Similar to secretary o Reporter Transcribe hearings o Prosecutor Represents the government Does not represent the victim Brings charges against defendant Tries to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" Goal for prosecution: ^^ Prosecutor o Whether an individual will be charged with a crime is decided by them o Decides the level of charges brought against the suspect o Decide if and when to stop the prosecution o Prosecuting attorney is an elected official o Crime fighter, considered part of law enforcement o Don't represent victim, but are thought to be on the same side as the victim 1 Balance right of accused 2 Balance rights of victim 3 Looking out for public safety Defense Attorney o Investigate the incident o Communicate/negotiate with prosecution o Prepare for trial o Submit motions o Represent defendant in trial o Negotiate sentence (if convicted) o Determine whether to appeal after being sentenced o "not defending actions of clients, defending their rights" They may know that client is guilty, but they still have to defend their rights and make sure they are still being treated correctly according to the constitution Public Defenders (type of attorney) o Work for government o Free of charge, provided by the government o Guideline: person will suffer substantial hardship if they had to pay for own defendant o Huge caseloads See book for specifics Adversarial system o System where defense and prosecuting sides are opponents Each side tries to make their case look favorable o Judge/ jury are neutral/passive decision makers o Presentation of evidence from both parties is given o Structured presentation of evidence/constitutional safeguards Goals differ o Police -> want the most serious charges possible filed o Prosecutors-> want the guilty plea o Defense-> want the not guilty plea o Victim-> want revenge/accountability/punishment 8th amendment o "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted" Pg 126-127 Innocent until proven guilty o Bail for pretrial release o Not excessive bail (not required, either) o Bail is set by a judge o Bail is a system of pretrial release based on a guarantee to come back to the trial Pay for bondsman if under certain circumstances Provides bail for a fee Consider… Seriousness of allegation Prior criminal record strength of the state's case Defendants financial status Cannot consider… Race Religion Sexual orientation Social class Etc. Alternatives to bail o Released on recognizance Stating return when trial takes place o Unsecured bond Promise to return to court o Signature bond Signing citation= agreeing to come back to court o Conditional release Have gps, etc. to assure return to court or with certain conditions Prosecutorial discretion o Dropping some or all of the charges o adding charges o Reducing the charges Plea bargaining o Want to get the larger danger; in case of plea for saying who bigger problem is… o Police/victim object because they want the largest punishment for the defendant o Trial is expensive/time consuming o Guilty is better than a loss (as far as prosecution goes) o Helps police clear cases o Either side can initiate one before a verdict o Can plea for charges or sentencing Participants o Government employees Public defender, court clerk, prosecuting attorney o Defendant and counsel o Jury (?) o Witnesses (including victim, whose role is witness) Sometimes high profile cases get very political Prosecuting attorney has the final authority on whether or not to bring charges as well as what charges to bring Pg 126-127 Concurrently : means that there might be 2 months of DWI charge or 2 months of other charge… sit the time together instead of consecutively
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