U.S. Constitution Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Thesis

Pages: 8 (2301 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice


The objective of this research is to examine police procedures such as searches, arrest and interrogations, as well as criminal trials and sentencing regulated by the Constitution in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. Most of these provisions of these amendments apply to states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The Constitution provides general guidelines or rules that apply to criminal cases. This work will discuss and analyze the rights, due process, protections and safeguards included in these amendments and the impact these amendments have upon today's criminal justice system and criminal prosecution.

Constitutional Amendments that are at focus in this study are those listed and stated as follows:

Amendment IV

The right of the people 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 or things to be seized.

Amendment V

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No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

TOPIC: Thesis on U.S. Constitution Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Assignment

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.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments afflicted. (Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America, FindLaw, 2008)


The work of Rasmussen and Benson (1994) entitled: "The Economic Anatomy of a Drug: Criminal Justice in the Commons" states the prohibition "is a poorly understood public policy. Most people, including drug addicts themselves and those who treat addiction, do not understand addiction." (1994) This is held by Rasmussen and Benson to be because the majority of people have no desire to "understand the murky workings of the black market and drug dealing. For most of those who study, discuss, and write about public policy, the subject of illegal drugs is far away and unimportant." (1994) This is probably fortunate in some ways since the "black market economy is a dangerous and criminal environment. Corruption of police, public officials, and the democratic process only increases the unsavory nature of the issue." (Rasmussen and Benson, 1994)

Additionally and with great clarity Rasmussen and Benson add: "In terms of one's academic career, championing the entrepreneur in the abstract is more acceptable than championing drug dealers and moonshiners; the cause of the unspecified consumer is more attractive than that of the drug addict; and advocating programs for the poor receives a much warmer reception than advocating the legalization of drugs, with all its real and imagined horrors." (1994) Consider the following statement of Rasmussen and Benton (1994) "In reality, the war on drugs has been escalated enormously and has become a public policy model for dealing with a lengthening list of social problems: crime, delinquency, illiteracy, pollution, child abuse, disease, and nasty habits. Ominously, the war on drugs is being fought with the aid of an ever-expanding number of violations of the rule of law: civil forfeiture of assets; use of the military in domestic law enforcement; illegal search and seizure; illicit evidence and perjured testimony; and failure to provide fair and speedy jury trials." (Rasmussen and Benson, 1994) in reality, the violation of citizen rights is occurring at a rampant pace and since the time that Rasmussen and Benton wrote their work, the situation has only worsened and greatly.


The fourth amendment ensures the right of the people to be secure insofar as their personal selves, their houses, in terms of their paper and effects and against searches and seizures that are unreasonable and finally that no warrants can be issued without probable cause that is accompanied by an oath providing specific information to identity the individual and thing that are to be searched and stated very clearly on the warrant that has been signed by a judge. The Fourth Amendment was adopted for protection purposes against the invasions of the privacy of American colonists by the British Government who, using authorizations termed 'writs of assistance' provided officer with the discretion that was very broad in nature to search the homes of private citizens in discovering British custom law violations.

It is unfortunate that the Fourth Amendment is poorly recognized by today's law enforcement and even the criminal justice system as the balancing of citizen rights and due to the perpetually and ongoing expansion of the needs of law-enforcement responsible for investigating and arresting suspects. A suspect is relative however as suspects are no longer viewed as such but instead are viewed as 'dangerous criminals'. Because of this view of today's suspects and the applied definition to 'suspects' in and by today's criminal justice system and accompany law enforcement agencies, the average, honest, and hard-working citizen is often viewed in a manner that strips them of their rights to privacy, and the range of protections provided within the Fourth Amendment contained within the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights.


Due to the distrust that the framers of the U.S. Constitution held for large centralized government they drafted the 'Bill of Rights' which is comprised by the Constitution's first ten amendments which contain the substance of what is defined as individual freedoms and the protection f those freedoms from abuse at the hands of the government. The ideal is one that requires that any laws that are enacted which serve to infringe on these fundamental rights are invalidated as unconstitutional by the judiciary. Enumerated within the Fifth Amendment are five specific individual freedoms as follows:

1) the right to be indicted by an impartial grand jury before being tried for a federal criminal offense;

2) the right to be free from multiple prosecutions or multiple punishments for a single criminal offense;

3) the right to have individual freedoms protected by due process of law;

4) the right to be free from government compelled self-incrimination; and 5) the right to receive just compensation if the government takes private property for public use.


The provisions of the Sixth Amendment are the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the accused individual's peers or in other words to have a trial in the state and county, or municipality in which one lives unless the crime is a federal crime and is governed under federal court jurisdictions. Common-law crimes are non-existent and penalties can only be imposed on crimes that are acts which are forbidden by Congress. The provision of a 'speedy trial is a safeguard that is significant in the prevention of undue and oppressive incarceration before trial of the individual and this has been put in place for the purpose of lessening the anxiety and concern that goes hand-in-hand with being publicly accused and to reduce the change that waiting a long time for trail will result in the individual's ability to defend himself or herself becoming somehow impaired.


The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted One subject to debate that is relative to the provisions of the Eighth Amendment was described in a USA Today report relating that "Lawmakers in three states are pushing bills to require convicted sex offenders to display special license plates on their cars. Proponents in Wisconsin, Ohio and Alabama say the sex offender plates would be another tool to keep the public safe. Critics say the plates would lead to a false sense of security and unintended consequences." (Jones, 2008) Because this crime is of such a heinous nature many 'knee-jerk' reactions hotly state support of this notion. However, a more in-depth examination of the implications of enactment of such a law reveals more questions than assurances that this would be such a good idea after all. While this purported and proposed punishment may not appear as cruel and unusual the idea of what might follow… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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