Free Criminal Law Second Exam Essay Sample

Question 1

Federal court system has been used to refer to courts in America. Article II court constitute the first bunch and includes; U.S District courts, U.S Circuit courts of Appeal and the U.S Supreme Court. The other category of the court is made up of mainly two special types; U.S court of claims and U.S court of international trade. They are termed specials since they are not courts of general jurisdiction thus cannot hear almost all cases. It is worth noting that judges of Article III courts are appointed by the present after obtaining advice and consent from the senate. Other courts established by the congress and include magistrate courts, bankruptcy courts, the U.S Courts of Military Appeal, the U.S Tax Court and finally the U.S Court of Veterans' Appeal (Cowling, 2006).

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The two special Article II Courts which are U.S Court of Claims and U.S Court of international Trade are situated in Washington D.C and New York in that order. They handle address cases purely against the government and those that pertains to tariffs and international trade issues respectively. With regards to courts created by Congress; magistrate courts deal with some cases relating to civil matters more often than not with the consent of the involved parties bankruptcy courts deal with cases as provided by the bankruptcy code, issues arising from the Uniform Code of Military Justice are handled by U.S Court of Military Appeal; it is the final appellate, matters concerning alleged tax deficiencies are tackled by U.S Tax Courts and finally when matter are raised concerning veterans being denied their benefits, it is the responsibility of U.S Court of Veterans' Appeals.

U.S District Courts are found in each and every state and act as trial courts; civil and criminal cases are heard. The judge is responsible for determining issues relating to law. U.S Circuit Courts of Appeal it sits in Washington D.C. It handles issues brought forth by appellants from the judgment of U.S District. Lastly, the U.S Supreme Court is the op most court in the federal court system sitting in Washington and served by 9 judges (Cowling, 2006). The major responsibility of the court is to handles issues regarding individuals not being satisfied with decisions of U.S Circuit Courts of Appeal.

Question 2

State court systems do exhibit some differences although there are similarities. The courts that make up state court systems include; 2 set of trial courts (trial courts of limited jurisdiction and trial courts of general jurisdiction), intermediate appellate courts and highest states courts. Judges that serve in the systems are not appointed for life but are either appointed or elected to serve for specified number of years.

Trial court of limited jurisdiction handle specific category of cases. Example includes probate courts which deal with issues regarding administering the estate of a dead person. It ensures that the will is followed to the later and in accordance with state law. Family court addresses matters pertaining to adoption, supporting child, divorce, annulments, custody and alimony. When individuals engage in minor violation of traffic laws, Traffic courts handles the issue. Juvenile court has the mandate of tackling cases that affect delinquent children of certain age category. Similarly, small claim courts are responsible for handling cases between private individuals having lower dollar amounts. Finally, municipal court is mandated to address offenses against city decrees (Cutler et al. 1992).

Trial courts of general jurisdiction are the major trial courts in the state system. It is worth noting that it is responsible for hearing cases outside the jurisdiction of the previous court- Trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Cases tackled include civil as well as criminal; the judge and the jury in that order decide issues of law and facts. There is also instance where the court hears appeal from plaintiff unsatisfied by the ruling from trial courts of limited jurisdiction. 

Majority of the state have intermediate appellate courts. It is usually between the trial courts of genera jurisdiction and highest state court. It is worth noting that parties not satisfied with the judgments of state trial courts with the exception of individuals who are involved in criminal cases and have not yet been found guilty can appeal in this court. The appeals are considered to be a matter of right and must be heard by the court. Nonetheless, the court only handles issues allege to be relating to procedural errors made by the trial judges and for that reason, there is no room for going again through the facts or acceptance of new evidences.  

Lastly, highest State Courts are found in each and every State although can be referred by other names such as court of appeal, highest court among others. The responsibility of these courts is to take appeals in cases where the intermediate appellate courts are missing (Ferdico, et al., 2009). The court has the unrestricted review of whether to accept or reject cases. The court also has original jurisdiction on certain controversies pertaining election.  It is usually the on top of the hierarchy.

Question 3

The principle has been thought to be one of the controversial principles emerging from the American Supreme Court. It "holds that evidence collected or analyzed in violation of the defendant's constitutional rights is sometimes inadmissible for a criminal prosecution in a court of law." (Cutler et al, 1992). The aim of this principle was to protect the constitutional right of Americans. The root of the principle is the American Forth Amendment intending to protect citizens from illegal seizures as well as searches. Additionally, the rule helps to provide remedy and disincentive a short of criminal prosecution in response to prosecutors as well as police officers who have collected evidence illegally. It is worth noting that deontological ethics laid ground for the development of the rule.

The introduction of the rule can be linked to what happened in England in 1769 where Lord Chief Justice Mansfield in his explanation held that no one should ever be forced to produce evidence but can use such in a court. Previously, U.S announced a weaker version of the rule but it was till 1914 in the case of Week v. U.S that the court prohibited forceful and unreasonable seizures and searches. It is important to note that the rule was applicable to federal agents and federal judges in federal courts only. In the case of Mapp v Ohio, the authorities suspected that a bombing suspect was being hidden and carried out an unauthorized search (Potter, 1983). They found pornographic material and charged the owner of the home. The case was taken to Supreme Court where the judges applied the exclusionary principled and stated that law enforcers need to be fair and at the same time not profit from their illegal acts. It is important to note that the case made majority of the states that had previously rejected the rule to re-adopt it.

In the case of Kyllo v. U.S. the thermal device used for imaging was found to infringe on individual expected privacy. Additionally it is unreasonable and unconstitutional thus governments have no right to interfere with individual expectation of privacy in their homes.  Lastly, in the case of Katz v. U.S, it was held that the government infringed on personal privacy by tapping conversation of the public. However, the court of Appeal ruled in favor of the FBI stating that there was no physical intrusion made while Katz was making the call. The big challenge usually lies when the issue at hand is a security concern.

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Question 4

According to the fourth amendment, the fruit of poisonous tree doctrine also termed as derivative evidence doctrine is a concept that describes evidences collected or obtained from illegal searches and seizures. Such evidences will thus be inadmissible. The fruit which is the evidenced to be relied upon is tainted as it is derived from unwarranted searches. This concept extends the provision of exclusionary rule. Exception to the doctrine stems from availability of independent sources, when discovery was inevitable, there is evident of free will in submitting evidence and the obtained evidence was provided in good faith. 

Independent source exception applies to exclusionary rule and provides that evidences obtained in the first instance if considered was illegal can only be included and be admissible only if a second independent and legal process. The major aim of the [provision is to protect the interest of the public from unlawful law enforcers. In American constitution, good faith exemption is an exemption to the exclusionary rule. It make it possible for evidences collected without a search warrant or seemed to have infringed on individuals privacy to be used in trial in situations where it is judged that the collection of such evidences were done when the officer was acting in good faith.

Inevitable discovery rule provides that evidence collected illegally and against the exclusionary rule is accepted and to be used during trial if it is established that legal police investigations would yield to the same evidence. It came to existence back in 1984 in Nix v. Williams.

Question 5

Complaint has been legally defined as a document filed with the court by an individual or entity (ies) that claim a legal right against another person or entity. Indictment refers to a formal accusation that an individual has gone against the laws of the land.  Arraignment has been though of as a situation where the formal reading of criminal complaint are formally in court when the defendant is in attendance informing him/her of the charges facing them. The defendant gives a plea.

Plea bargain is whereby there is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor in criminal cases in which the former is provided with an opportunity to plead guilty. This is done mainly to help the defendant to face lesser charges or even be charged of the original case but to be given lighter punishment. The legal definition of discovery has been a fact-finding process taking place immediately after filing of a law suit and before trials commence. This makes the relevant parties to share information aimed at helping unravel the truth about the issue at hand.

Venue refers to the "legally proper or most convenient place where a particular case should be filed or handled." Motion is an application either oral or written presented to a judge asking or obtaining a ruler or even directing that some favors be done to the applicant. The judge can then offers or deny the motion based on the contents provided. A pretrial hearing is a meeting with the judge that happens before trial, if the parties have not come to an agreement by a given time. The aim of pretrial hearing is offer the two parties to negotiate. MAPP refers to efforts aimed at suppressing physical evidences that was obtained from a defendant. The basis for doing so is that the law enforcers had no legal rights to search and seize the evidence. WADE is a hearing in which one works in suppressing how they were identified usually based on the fact that pretrial identification steps were indeed suggestive and for that matter witnesses are anticipated not to have been able to identify the accused under normal situations.

Jury selection refers to mechanisms used in choosing individuals who will serve on a trial jury. Usually a pool is chosen from among the community mostly by random method. Voir dire is a situation where jurors are required to answer some question either by showing hands among other methods. It is through such examination that prosecution and defense can either accept or object to a juror (United States Courts, n.d).

Peremptory challenge in United States constitution refers to the right the prosecutor and the defense has in rejecting a jury who seem to show unfavorable bias without giving reason for doing so. As a result of this concept, it came to light that there are incidences that some juries were being rejected based on the basis such as race and for that matter hence Batson challenge.

Question 6

According to Wilkey, 1978 warrants are documents sanctioned by courts that give law enforcers the legal authority to arrest or search which are the two major types. Warrant of arrest is aimed at giving officers a legal base of detaining a suspect. On the other hand, a search warrant is an authority to police officers to engage in activities of searching a private property deemed to provide the relevant authority with vital evidence. Anticipatory search warrant is a sanctioned document by the courts given to law enforcers typically based on a sworn affidavit that there is a possibility of obtaining substantial evidence from the target location.

According to United States under the Wire and Electronic Communications Interception and Interception of Oral Communications Act, there is need for a court order to be provided but only after a lose examination of events that show that crime has been committed or is about to be committed to allow use of electronic surveillance. Typically there is tapping of interstate communication. Interceptions of communication with the consent of the parties have elicited endless arguments. When thinking of sneak and peak warrants, the one carrying out such an activity is authorized to enter a private property without the consent and knowledge and carryout clandestine activities (Abramson, 2000). On the other hand administrative warrant is a special kind of warrant that are requested by certain administrative organs of the government to carryout searches mostly to inspect whether the targeted organization comply with certain regulations or guidelines.  

Special need circumstances mean "those situations which are not common to all recipients and which arise out of need for certain goods or services, and physical infirmities or other conditions peculiar, on a nonrecurring basis, to the individual's situation" (Dressler, 2002)

Question 7

It is worth noting that the fourth amendment of the American constitution has major clauses pertaining to searches and seizures. The clause provides that at no time will law enforcers infringe in privacy of individuals by carrying out unauthorized searches. Infringing of personal privacy include but not limited to wire tapping individual conversation among others. Similarly arbitrary arrests made by law enforcers, stop and frisking, boarder searches; plain view and plain feel have been adequately addressed.


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