Criminal Justice Process
The process of judgment in a criminal case takes place in various stages. The process begins with the arrest stage and ends at the trial stage when the person is either imprisoned or released. Each stage has its distinct activities, and the defendant has some constitutional rights and privileges at every stage (Brewer, 2009). In this instance, the person is treated as a suspect and not a criminal and is therefore protected from any brutal acts by the arresting authorities or the public. The constitution defends the rights of a suspect in a criminal case until the person is proved guilty in a hearing at the court of law. The protections that a defendant in a criminal case is privileged to enjoy at every stage of the justice process are discussed below.
The Arrest Stage
This is the initial stage of the process where the police physically arrest the person for committing a particular act. The police must have a strong belief that the individual has committed the act which is constitutionally recognized as a crime (Sullivan & Massaro, 2013). They can have either seen the person commit the crime or get a tip from the public. The arresting police must be in possession of a valid warrant of arrest. At this stage, the defendant is constitutionally protected to remain silent and deny answering any questions regarding the suspected commitment of the crime on interrogation by the police. However, the suspect must cooperate with the police. The suspect also has a right to ask about the arrest and demand that the police display an arrest warrant and identify themselves as police officers.
At this point, the police are trying to get relevant information from the suspect. The stage intends to collect all possible evidence of the commitment of the crime by the person. The police and the suspect negotiate on the possibilities of the occurrence of the purported crime (Brewer, 2009). The police can call upon witnesses who claim to have seen the suspect commit the crime. At this point, the suspected criminal has two rights — either to remain silent or to confront the witness. The constitution protects them in both of the two instances (Sullivan & Massaro, 2013). It gives the suspect a right to cross-examine the witness and get the facts relating to the case in question. The suspect can also call upon the jury to act on their behalf.
The Trial Stage
This is the actual determination of the case where the case is forwarded to a court of law. The judge hears the case and the constitution protects the suspect on various issues. Firstly, the suspect is protected to choose certain aspects as pertaining to the hearing and person hearing the case. They can choose the jury for listening their cases if they give practical and convincing grounds (Sullivan & Massaro, 2013). They are also entitled to a public hearing where the suspect is free to call upon people of interest to witness the hearing. The suspect can invite their parents, friends and other people as witnesses in the hearing. The suspect is also protected from having a speedy trial. In case the suspect sees that the case is being conducted slowly, they can constitutionally demand for fast processing of the case. Even though the suspect may not specify the actual time limits of the case, they have a right to demand that the case is sped up.
Constitutionally, the suspect can be represented by an attorney. The council can offer full or partial support in the case and thus suspect can continue to remain silent all through the hearing. The defendant also has a right to an adequate representation if they do have their attorney and thus can be given their counsel in the case (Brewer, 2009). They can seek help from other lawyers or from other people who were a witness in the case. They are also protected from double jeopardy where the court or any other person does not have to jeopardize on the suspect and cause harm to them. They cannot be inflicted of further crime or tort when they have been arrested for a particularly different crime.
Brewer-C, A.R. (2009). Constitutional protection of human rights in Latin America: A comparative study of amparo proceedings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sullivan, E. T., & Massaro, T. M. (2013). The arc of due process in American constitutional law. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.