Running Head: The Pre Trial Process After a suspect is arrested and officially charged with a crime, he or she becomes a criminal defendant (Zalman, 2008). This step is significant in the criminal justice process because it brings several new sets of rules into play related to the defendant’s trial. Before a criminal defendant can be tried however, a number of milestones must be met and several obligatory processes must be completed. These procedures are designed to ensure that a fair trial takes place (Zalman, 2008).
As criminal justice professionals must work in the medium of truth in their day to day activities in order to maintain their ethical and professional integrity, understanding the pre trial process is vital. Pre Trial Detention and Bail Pre-trial detention center are facilities that house all classifications of inmates. Pre-trial detention centers are in charge of keeping those suspected of a crime in custody when bail is revoked by a judge or a magistrate.
Detention centers have a wide variety of inmate classification. The classification can range from traffic violations to those who have committed a capital crime. Some or most inmates will be given bail that must be paid in order for the inmate to leave the jail during the trial process. Bail is given to those people who would likely come back to later court proceedings. Bail takes place for offenders that are not seen as a flight risk. Right to a preliminary examination
Every individual has the right to a preliminary examination. A preliminary examination is also called a preliminary hearing. The right to a preliminary examination is made up of different sections of Amendments to the United States Constitution. The preliminary examination is a preliminary hearing to determine if there is probable cause justifying sending a case to trial. During this hearing a defendant accused of committing a crime has the right of a trial by jury.
A defendant has a right to remain silent and this cannot be used against him. No person can be forced to testify against themselves. A defendant has the right to testify and to present evidence including witnesses to testify on his behalf. A defendant also has the right during a preliminary examination to confront and cross-examine witnesses. These different rights are covered by The Constitution of the United States, Amendment 5, U. S. Const. am. 6, U. S. Const. am. 8, U. S. Const. am 14.
Mount (2001) states a defendant’s rights to a preliminary examination are covered as follows: “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. The Sixth Amendment states- 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.
The Eighth Amendment states- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted. The Fourteenth Amendment states- No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. ” (para. 10) By combining the different Amendments a defendant has a right to a preliminary examination.
Role of the Grand Jury For federal criminal charges the Fifth Amendment requires an indictment from a grand jury. The role of the Grand Jury is to see and hear the evidence presented by the prosecutor and determine if there is probable cause to issue an indictment. The grand jury only has to determine probable cause so there is no need for the prosecutor to present all the evidence or even conflicting evidence. The prosecutor just needs to show probable cause. Exculpatory Information A trial includes a constant effort to protect the rights of the defendant in a court of law (Zalman, 2008).
Evidence may be presented by the prosecution in a manner intended to place the defendant at an unfair disadvantage. This evidence is a violation of his or her right to due process and right to fair trial when it is discovered to be untruthful and haphazardly presented to the jury (Zalman, 2008). This information can include a misleading testimony in which a witness withholds vital information that will negatively affect the defendant. Additionally, the prosecution can allow a testimony from a witness that is misinformed or ignorant, which can affect cross-examination from the defense.
Since the purpose of cross-examining the witness is to obtain information that will weaken the testimony, a misinformed witness does not provide the defense with a useful basis (Zalman, 2008). Evidence presented by the prosecution must be researched and found truthful. The 1963 case of Brady v. Maryland illustrated misconduct on behalf of the prosecution in withholding evidence from the defense during pretrial proceedings (Zalman, 2008). Brady and his companion, Boblit were prosecuted for murder (Brady, 2010). Brady confessed to the prosecutor that he was at the scene of the murder, however did not actually commit the act (Brady, 2010).
The prosecution received a written confession from Boblit that agreed with Brady’s statements, however did not present this portion of the evidence during the pretrial (Brady, 2010). Consequently, the Maryland Court of Appeals had “affirmed the conviction and remanded the case for a retrial only of the question of punishment” (Brady v. Maryland, 2010). Additionally, this case resulted in what is known as Brady evidence or “evidence which consists of exculpatory or impeaching information that is material to the guilt or innocence or to the punishment of a defendant” (Brady material, 2010).
Colloquially, ‘Brady cops’ are law enforcement officers that lie. There are ongoing efforts to pass laws that require all evidence to be available during the pretrial process. Prosecutorial misconduct Prosecutorial Misconduct is a legal defensive strategy, for the most part. It is the equivalent of the accused being allowed to claim the prosecutor did not follow all the rules and was unfair to them in the trial process (Zalman, 2008). Such claims can be varied, from withholding evidence to not acting to interview people who could prove the accused’ innocence.
Withholding evidence that the defense is supposed to have access to, planting evidence at a crime scene, going ahead with charges when there is no evidence that could be used in court to convict the accused are the first instances that are suspected, however they can also include: false confessions, false arrest, intimidation, police brutality, corruption, racial profiling are all further examples of a prosecution that has made an effort to abuse its powers in order to get a guilty verdict (Zalman, 2008). There are many examples across the U. S. o show by example what is meant. In Baltimore a man was shot four times by police in what they described as a drug bust gone bad (Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct, 2010). No drugs were found on the premises and no drugs were found in the accused’s system (Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct, 2010). So little evidence was found that the prosecutor had the case postponed 15 times trying to wait to see if enough evidence would come up to allow him to go forward with the case (Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct, 2010).
When finally tried almost three years later, the suspect was found not guilty (Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct, 2010). In Camden County, New Jersey a man who had been held for 15 years had the conviction vacated when it was discovered that the prosecutor knew that someone had been paid to testify against the accused, yet that information was never given to the defense (Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct, 2010). The man had never confessed and had proclaimed his innocence from the day he was arrested (Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct, 2010).
The overall view is that these are the acts of prosecutors who see not justice, but a need to win in the courtroom (King, 1999). To do that, unethical prosecutors focused only on securing a victory will cheat, cut corners, offer false testimony, fabricate evidence, and conceal evidence of innocence from both the defense and the court (King, 1999). This loss of justice and this conversion of a citizen’s rights have affected the way the defense, the press, and the public looks at prosecutors and their actions.
Moreover, the press has not yet taken on prosecutors as they have police actions that similarly affect accused citizens and their rights, so it can only be assumed that many more and even worse stories are yet to follow. References Brady v. Maryland. (n. d. ) TheFreeDictionary. com. (2010). Retrieved August 30 2010 from http://encyclopedia. thefreedictionary. com/Brady+v. +Maryland King, J. (1999). Twisted Justice: Prosecution Function in America Out of Control. The Champion Magazine. Retrieved August 25, 2010, from http://www. nacdl. org/public. nsf/championarticles/99mar01? pendocument Leipold, Andrew D. (2002). “Preliminary Hearing. ” Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice. Retrieved August 28, 2010 from: http://www. encyclopedia. com/doc/1G2-3403000193. html Mount, S. (2001). The United States Constitution. Retrieved August 29, 2010 from http://www. usconstitution. net/const. html#Am5 Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct. (2010). The Justice Project. Retrieved August 25, 2010, from http://truthinjustice. org/p-pmisconduct. htm Zalman, M. (2008). Criminal procedure: Constitution and society, 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.