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Policy Analysis

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The criminal justice system of the United States remains influenced because of probable cause, police discretion, and judicial discretion concerning criminal misconduct. This material reviews the history of policing, and the court system. This examination analyzes probable cause, police discretion, and how these components influence law enforcement and the courts. Additionally, this assessment reviews the influence for law enforcement, studies police operations, and observes various decision-making processes. Furthermore, this investigation scrutinizes the judicial discretion process, reviews different influences for the courts, reviews diverse court operations, and examines other decision-making processes. History of Policing

The United States received most of its policing ideas from Great Britain. During the 18th century, the idea of policing began its evolution. Individuals, clans, and families assumed the responsibility for taking revenge on any individual posing a threat, causing injury, or executing an offense. In one form or another, society dealt with any individual’s decision for committing a crime, even though no formal law enforcement agency existed. Prior to the early policing era, society designated specific individuals for maintaining security for each family, group, or clan. Some of the early forms of punishment during this period include branding, beating, or mutilating a criminal offender. These kinds of criminal disciplines progressed over time.

For example, the Roman Empire maintained civil order with some kind of a military structure. This form of military policing ruled with an “iron-fist,” and used extreme measures for maintaining social law and order. During 1626, the city of New York founded the New York City Sheriff’s Office. This organization evolved into the New York City Police Department (NYPD) during 1845.

Another example of structured policing occurred during 1635 with the city of Boston’s Night Watch program, which maintained social order, and investigated crime. This organization evolved into the Boston Police Department during 1845. The natural sequence of supply and demand, an influx of various immigrants, a massive population increase, alcohol abuse, and drug distribution made it necessary for the United States to use some kind of policing structure for maintaining social order (Roufa, 2013).

History of Courts

The Criminal Justice System of the United States follows a blueprint from the English Common Law program. This process usually includes a plaintiff, a defendant, an impartial judge, and generally consists of a jury. For criminal cases, a prosecutor usually represents the state or the people from a particular state. A judge’s responsibility includes enforcing the law, managing the law and motion process, maintaining courtroom order, and providing guidelines during the sentencing process. The court system of the United States maintains various court jurisdictions, which include the trial (lower) courts, the Appellate court, and the state Supreme Court.

The Federal courts maintain separate authority from the state court system, and remained governed by the United States Supreme Court. Generally, the United States Criminal Justice System follows similar jurisdictions. These different authorities remain guided by the Bill Of Rights and other provisions from the United States Constitution. However, various exceptions, protections, and limitations influence these lawful entities (Marion & Oliver, 2006).

Probable Cause

A Police officer uses probable cause during each of his or her criminal investigation. Probable cause includes a “reasonable-belief” that an offender committed, or attempts to commit some kind of crime. During this process, an officer must maintain adequate knowledge of facts that an offender committed a crime. This process must include supporting facts as well as suspicion, or evidence that a crime occurred.

A court tests this theory based on the facts that an objective individual with sensible intelligence believed the offender provided circumstances warranting a suspect’s arrest. A police officer uses probable cause for establishing evidence. Some of these principles include a police officer’s observation, circumstantial evidence, expertise, sensory, and consent. Usually arrests occur because an officer believes an offender conducts some kind of suspicious activity. For example, during a traffic stop, a police officer uses his or her discretion when interviewing the offender.

During the investigation, if the offender slurs his or her words, the officer may subject the offender to a sobriety test. Additionally, during a police search and seizure, a police officer must acquire probable cause during his or her decision-making process. Furthermore, if a police officer lacks probable cause during an arrest, he or she exposes himself to an illegal search and seizure, and other possible Fourth Amendment violations (LaMance, 2013).

Police Discretion

Law enforcement personnel usually apply some form of police discretion during his or her decision-making process. This sequence depends on various factors, which include the type of crime, age, gender, race, class, and demeanor of the victim. Law enforcement officers maintain discretion when his or her effective limits provide the opportunity for executing a decision based on some kind of course-of-action for managing crime. These types of decisions parallel with various requirements, limitations, and protections provided by mandated lawful rules and regulations.

Police discretion is an important part of police work, which maintains some limitations according to the law (Young, 2011). Police discretion usually follows two models, which include the Functionalist Model, or the Conflict Model. The functionalist model suggests that the most important principle of law enforcement includes police discretion, and that police officers cannot perform his or her duties without using police discretion.

The conflict model suggests that society remains absorbed with different kinds of class conflict, which compels law enforcement’s use of police discretion. Some argue that police discretion remains flawed because of predictability, failure to enforce the law, and a lack of consistency performed from police officers. Police discretion usually occurs on a case-by-case situation. For example, during an officer’s shift, if an officer arrives at an intersection, and views a jaywalker and a drug dealer, he or she must determine which incident causes a bigger threat for society.

Because of a lack of manpower, a police officer must prioritize each situation because of his or her specialized training. In some cases, a police officer maintains the authority for forgiving an offense. A police officer’s discretion usually depends on various factors, which include if an offender cooperates, remains honest, displays good behavior, and maintains no warrants. These kinds of scenarios usually include traffic violations, and whether or not the offender poses a threat for the community (Young, 2011).

Influence for Law Enforcement

Police training provides some kind of guidelines for police officer’s when using his or her police discretion. Not only does a police officer respond to criminal acts, he or she provides assistance with other types of community service calls, which includes managing the flow of traffic, and crowd control. Police officers use good judgment discretionary principles during his or her shift. For example, a police officer managing a violent act controls the situation because of the direct-threat to the community, and each officer. However, during lesser acts of misconduct, he or she uses his or her discretion (training) for resolving the situation.

Occasionally, a police officer uses his or her discretion when resolving non-violent matters because of the backlog on prosecutors, and the criminal court system. Police officers maintain the authority for making arrests, providing warnings, or writing citations for offenders. Police discretion influences an officer’s decision-making process because of several factors. Some of these conditions include an officer’s background, the criminal suspects record, various departmental polices, his or her disagreement with the law, victim pressure, or other community interests. Essentially, police officer’s provide law and order for the community.

During each police situation, an officer uses some form of probable cause, or police discretion during his or her decision-making process. For example, during a police investigation, if an officer determines the suspect maintains a criminal record, he or she usually exercises probable cause. During the search, if an officer finds illegal drugs or weapons, he or she maintains discretion for locating the dealer supplying the offender with illegal drugs or weapons (Young, 2011).

Police Operations and Decision-Making

Police officers receive “intense-training” for managing crime, and maintaining law and order for the community. Law enforcement personnel often manage crisis situations. In many cases, an officer has time to assess, collect, and reflect the data he or she gathers during an investigation. Because of the advanced-trained an officer receives, he or she performs strategic conclusions during his or her decision-making process. However, a police officer occasionally uses his or her training for resolving various crisis-driven situations.

Law enforcement officer’s often make quick decisions for resolving crime. Unfortunately, the demands of this job require an officer to put his or her life on the line each day. Ultimately, during an officer’s shift, the primary objective includes protecting the community, resolving crime, and going home safely after his or her shift. An officer using probable cause and police discretion saves lives. However, he or she must remain trustworthy, responsible, and active during his or her decision-making process (Young, 2011).

Judicial Discretion

A judge usually remains a product of his or her environment. The judicial decision-making process typically follows a judge because of his or her background, experience, age, ethnicity, sex, and religion. Judges usually remain committed with his or her personal beliefs, and other kinds of political influence. However, a judge usually relies on a law enforcement officer’s police report as evidence during the sentencing process.

Judges usually identify himself as a liberal, or a conservative. Additionally, public opinion usually influences a judge’s thought process. Judicial courts remain guided because of an offender’s constitutional rights. Furthermore, any kind of formatted laws must remain neutral. These laws must parallel with the United States Constitution. Any kind of judicial decision-making process usually receives some kind of influence from members of the community (Marion & Oliver, 2006).

Influence for the Courts

Judicial discretion during sentencing remains a powerful tool for judges. This process began during the 18th century. Initial cases regarding judicial discretion concerning felonies record during 1820-1861. During this period, Parliament permitted, or restricted the authority for judges. Modern English punishment began with the Criminal Justice Act of 1948. Following this legislation, the Criminal Justice Act of 1961 and 1967 provided increased legislative guidelines during the sentencing process, which provided limits for judicial discretion. Additionally, the Criminal Justice Act of 1983 provided judicial limitations and sentencing guidelines for youth offenders. Furthermore, the Criminal Justice Act of 1991 provided strict minimum sentence requirements for custodial punishments.

Because of the political controversy occurring because of this 1991 initiative, judicial discretion became the fundamental attribute during the sentencing process (Thomas, 2003). Many judges use his or her authority when exercising judicial discretion. Part of this process includes a judge considering the probable cause intentions from an arresting officer. Various organizations, which include diverse special interest groups, different political parties, the bar association, and other business alliances influence when a judge uses his or her judicial discretion (Marion & Oliver, 2006).

Court Operations and Decision-Making

During courtroom situations, the court employees usually work together when managing the court process. In some cases, the courtroom flow becomes interrupted when the court members do not agree. The Naturalistic decision-making process maintains guidelines for a successful trial process. In some cases, the Traditional decision-making process manages court operations. The naturalistic process typically manages structured problems, accommodates unclear environments, and resolves ill-defined problems.

Other processes managed by the naturalistic method include action decisions, time-sensitive issues, and other high-profile matters. The traditional process usually manages well-defined problems, resolves simulated circumstances, and determines matters of truth. Other processes managed by the traditional method include individual decision-making processes, and other kinds of vacuum-type resolutions for difficult situations (Uttaro, 2002). This examination reviews probable cause, police discretion, and judicial discretion regarding criminal misconduct. This investigation scrutinizes the history of policing, and the court system history.

This study examines probable cause, police discretion, and how these components control law enforcement, and the court system. Additionally, this evaluation reviews influences for law enforcement, analyzes police operations, and observes various decision-making processes. Furthermore, this investigation investigates the judicial discretion process, examines different influences for the court system, reviews different court operations, and scrutinizes other decision-making methods.

LaMance, K. (2013, February 4). Probable Cause Searches. Retrieved from
http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/probable-cause-searches.html. Marion, N., & Oliver, W. (2006). The Public Policy of Crime and Criminal Justice. Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Roufa, T. (2013). The History of Modern Policing: How the Modern Police Force Evolved.
Retrieved from http://www.criminologycareers.about.com/od/Criminology_Basics/a/
Thomas, D. (2003). Judicial Discretion in Sentencing. Retrieved from http://www.ncjrs.gov/
Uttaro, M. (2002). Naturalistic Decision-Making in Law Enforcement Practice. Retrieved from
http://www.scholar.lib.vt.edu/thesis/available/etd-04102002/unrestricted/ Chapters_1-5.pdf.
Young, B. (2011, April 4). Police Discretion in Contemporary America. Retrieved from

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