Criminal Investigation A). Research Proposal

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Criminal Investigation a). Criminal investigation is a police activity, which seeks out clues and evidence to determine if a crime has occurred (PInow 2005). If it has, the activity will proceed to look into the background of the accused and discover who committed the crime (PInow.com)..

A b) the three primary sources of information in a criminal investigation are the witness, the victim, and the suspect (Congressional Research Service 2006). These persons provide first-hand information about the commission of a crime called statements. The investigating law enforcement officer takes these statements to substantiate charges he may file against the suspect; disregard conflicting testimony against the suspect; and use as source of investigative information as to descriptions and identities. A witness is a person who has personal knowledge of the circumstances of a crime and is willing to provide facts about it. He or she may be a companion, a neighbor or someone present when the incident happened. The victim is the offended party in the crime who provides relevant information about the incident to the investigating officer. He or she can be any person in any circumstance whose rights are violated by another. And the suspect is the assumed offender who, under certain circumstances, is willing to make full or partial revelation of his commission of, or involvement in, the crime. Like the witness and the victim, he or she can be any person. Statements are either handwritten or typewritten (Congressional Research Service).

2. The four most important personal traits of a criminal investigator are:

competence or knowledgeableness objectiveness or objectivity calmness professionalism

3. The scientific method of conducting a criminal investigation seeks a conclusion or the cause of a certain effect (Master'sGirl 2009). The scientist and the criminal investigator are specially trained for their fields and utilize similar methods in accomplishing their tasks. Both of them observe the surroundings, acquire the facts and study the areas of study or investigation. They process and classify information into valid or not valid and into simple forms. They use logic, form hypotheses or theories to explain the occurrence to themselves. They need to connect the information gathered in proving or disproving the theories or conclusions. Both of them work systematically in seeking accurate answers rather than general or broad conclusions (Master'sGirl).

The scientist uses established methods of the past, which are well-organized, systematic and precise (Master'sGirl 2009). He starts his work on a given theory or hypothesis, guided by what he intends to achieve. Using the hypothesis, he conducts tests, gathers data and makes predictions. The results of these tests and the gathered data either prove or disprove the hypothesis. His research proceeds from generalizations to specifics. He uses the inductive form of reasoning (Master'sGirl).

On the other hand, the criminal investigator first gathers documents and salient information about an incident (Master'sGirl 2009). His work is also systematic and well-organized but begins from details. These details include the incident, persons, the place and the time. He determines what evidence is relevant and what is not. As he gathers information and evidence, he forms a hypothesis. He proceeds from specific details to a generalization or through deductive reasoning. In the process, he needs to prove or disprove his hypothesis on the occurrence of a crime and/or other details (Master'sGirl).

A a) Standard of Probable Cause vs. Standard of Reasonable Doubt or Suspicion

Probable cause exists when known facts and circumstances are enough for a man of reasonable prudence to believe that evidence of a crime will be found (Congressional (Research Service 2006). The substance of probable cause consists of a reasonable ground of the belief of guilt. That belief of guilt should be specific to the person to be arrested or searched. It means more than bare suspicion. The facts and circumstances within an officer's knowledge represent reasonably trustworthy information that an offense has been committed or is being committed. In many occasions, the Supreme Court clarified that probable cause refers to a degree of probability that cannot be easily drawn out of context. The standard of probable cause cannot be defined with precision or quantified in percentages. It deals with probabilities and must draw from the entire set of circumstances (Congressional Research Service).

The standard of reasonable doubt or suspicion is applicable when a police officer may conduct limited seizure and search with less than the requirements of probable cause (Congressional Research Service 2006). It is more than a generalized suspicion or hunch and less than proof or wrongdoing as required by probable cause. Nonetheless, it supported by perceivable facts that a criminal activity may have occurred or is occurring. A limited search of outer clothing, for example, of a person to look for weapons, which he may use to assault someone. This constitutes reasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. The weapon may be used as evidence against the person (Congressional Research Service).

These two standards cannot be neatly differentiated (Congressional Research Service 2006). There exist common-sense and non-technical but factual and practical considerations, by which prudent and reasonable minds operate to judge a particular circumstance. Reasonable suspicion is the standard used to stop the suspected criminal activity of a specific person. On the other hand, the standard of probable cause applies when known facts and circumstances are enough for a reasonable and prudent mind to believe that evidence of a crime will be found. The two standards are, however, not strictly distinct. They do not compare as clearly as the standards of reasonable doubt and preponderance of evidence. They draw their distinction from the substantive content of the particular contexts in which they are assessed. The choice of which standard to use depends on the events leading to the arrest or search. Drawing from the facts and considered from an objective and reasonable standpoint, the police officer determines whether the occurrence produces reasonable doubt or probable cause. The Supreme Court ruled, however, that the standard of probable cause would be used in a less demanding way or at least differently in national security cases (Congressional Research Service).

The proportionality principle in criminal justice states that "punishment should fit the crime (D'Amico 2007). It is the ideal standard that evaluates criminal sentencing. Yet there remains a gap between theory and practice. Criminal justice remains divided between advocates of rehabilitation and advocates of retribution. One side states that society's response to crime conditions the safety, security and general welfare of its members. The other side argues that an unduly punitive criminal justice system can harm or destroy innocent people. Or when too lenient, the criminal justice system can expose vulnerable members to crime. The dominant perspective or sentiment is that criminals deserve to be punished (D'Amico).

These two conflicting perspectives collide in the current American criminal justice system (D'Amico 2007). The consequence is a society, which is neither completely retributive nor rehabilitative. Both perspectives are used. They influence the purview of criminal codes, penalties and rates of incarceration. As a consequence, they constrain the proportionality principle and the gap between theory and practice remains (D'Amico).

A b) Testimonial or communicative evidence is evidence given in writing, speech or another way to express one's thoughts (FindLaw 2009). The Fifth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution protects only this kind of evidence as privilege against self-incrimination. Real evidence refers to physical evidence. It is tangible evidence, relevant to the crime incident, and which gives rise to a case. Examples of real or physical evidence are a weapon, documents or visible injuries. Demonstrative or illustrative evidence is an object, which has no probative value on its own but can be used to show or clarify some factual matters in the issue or case (FindLaw).

A c) Direct evidence immediately establishes some facts without need for inference (FindLaw 2009). It is provided by a physical or actual witness… [END OF PREVIEW]

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