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Criminal Law Foundations Evaluation

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With a great deal of debate the design of the United States along with the lay out by the founders of the country who took their roll in laying down the “rules” of the United States of America very seriously. The Articles of Confederation, the Bill of Rights, and the US Constitution lay the floor work of a layer of protection afforded to all United States Citizens. Each of the doctrines provides a step towards the written words that have granted many men and women protection from persecution as well as freedoms not received in other parts of the world. The last piece of the three historical documents, the US Constitution is comprised of a set of amendments, which have been written to protect several different rights that as a citizen are protected from false persecution. These constitutional amendments play a large roll, in the manner in which aspects of court procedure handled in both juvenile and adult court systems.

The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment were evolutionary in an effort to protect the rights of the people of the United States. Authoring the three amendments gave way to an overhaul in the judicial process, along with a significant change in judicial decision in American history. “The Fourth Amendment provides the people of the United States, the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects. Against unreasonable searches, and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons and things to be seized” (U.S Constitutional Amendments, 1972). The design of this Amendment is to create a type of barrier in order to protect individual rights to privacy, also preventing illegal search, and seizure of personal property. These search warrants are in existence in order to ensure that law enforcement have boundaries when it comes to search and seizure of personal property without a court signed document detailing the probable cause.

As society entered into the digital age, the fundamental importance of these privacies both inside and outside of the courtroom, have become more visible. “In the last decade, personal computers have become an increasingly important source of evidence in criminal cases. Society utilizes computers to record, and store a remarkable amount of information. Documenting, almost every ounce of personal, business and community information and events. In a growing number of cases, searching the suspect’s personal computer is an essential step in the investigation. The thorny issue for the courts — and the fascinating issue for scholars — is how the Fourth Amendment should regulate the process” (Kerr, p.532, 2005).

The Fourth Amendment affected both juvenile and adult, courts processes in significant ways. The most influential impact is the inability to prosecute with the use of property, or information from illegal search or seizure. History has recorded cases that have been thrown out because of these types of illegal procedures. With greater restrictions, the juvenile court system relates to the fourth amendment in a different manner. In some instances, circumstances are taken under consideration while in mitigation that would not apply in relation to adult court. An example of this circumstance is a search, and seizure by schools, social service agencies, and police officers on patrol. Although juvenile court systems have agreed that juveniles do have protection under the Fourth Amendment, in criminal proceedings, this protection is not clean cut; the Supreme Court refuses to enter a final verdict.

The Fifth Amendment 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. An exception is when the cases arise in the land, naval forces, or the Militia when in actual service in time of War or public danger. No person shall be the subject for the same offence to be twice, putting in jeopardy of life or limb. No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, or be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. No person shall have private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” (The U.S Constitutional Amendments, 1971). The meaning of the Fifth Amendment is to protect community members from being on trial without an indictment handed down from a Grand Jury.

The double jeopardy rule is a protection by the Fifth Amendment, which states that once an individual has been acquitted of a crime, said individual could not be tried for the same offense in the same jurisdiction. The Fifth Amendment protects the people from self-incrimination, stating that any individual can choose not to answer any questions during trial. Quite often referenced in situations through the statement often used by witnesses reluctant to testify is “I plead the Fifth.” One of the most widely known clauses in the Fifth Amendment is the Miranda Rights; this clause is meant to protect the ignorant. When a person suspected of committing a crime, he or she must be read his or her Miranda rights. Should the person under arrest not be read his, or her rights, he or she will walk free. Double jeopardy, Miranda rights, and the ability to be indicted, all have effects on the adult and juvenile court systems. Court procedures in relation to the reading of the Miranda rights or lack of is clear, any and all evidence collected without the reading of these rights is inadmissible in all courts.

Without the induction of the Fifth Amendment into the Bill of Rights, one-court trials would go forward without consent of a grand jury. Juvenile and adult courts must follow these clauses and protect the rights of citizens without prejudice. The sixth Amendment states, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed. Which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense” (US Constitutional Amendments, 1971). These amendments guarantee the right to a public trial, impartial jury of their peers, informed of pending charge right, right to cross examination, right to favorable witnesses, and the right to counsel. Among all of the Amendments, the Sixth is known as the most influential to court procedure for both adults and juveniles. Procedures are outlined in detail with this amendment, with regard to the proceedings on the court docket.

The Sixth Amendment safeguards the fundamental rights of a criminal defendant, denial of these clauses would be catastrophic to the judicial process. These rights guaranteed by this amendment are the building blocks for the trials held, not only for the protection of the criminal defendant, but all court parties involved. The Sixth Amendment applies to the juvenile court system in the same manner as adults. One difference is that parental rights and consents given are considered throughout the court procedures. This ensures that any decisions to be made are made by a consenting adult who has the best interest of the child. The US court systems are unique in the sense that these three amendments play such an important role in the processes.

Fairness for the citizen, whether juvenile or adult, is the basis for the clauses that have been written into these amendments. Did the founders of the country know what or where our court systems would be heading? Probably not, but instead laid the foundation for others to protect those who would need it through the right to a fair trial. The United States court systems utilize the guidelines offered in the writing of the amendments. As our society develops and changes with modern times, the rights that our founding fathers had enough common sense to put in stone will contribute to the fair treatment of people both inside and outside of the US court system. The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments will always play a significant part of the court system.


Kerr, O. (2005, December). Search and Seizures in a Digital World. Harvard Law Review, Vol. 119,(Issue 2), p. 531-585. Retrieved June 22, 2013 No Author U.S Constitutional Amendments, 1971, Retrieved June 22, 2013

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