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Prosecution v. Defense And The Constitution That Binds Them

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Note: this is the final part in a three-part series on the criminal justice system.  See part one: “Criminal Defense Attorneys And The People They Really Protect”; part two: “Prosecutors And The “Technicalities” That Set Criminals Free.”

Very few things in this world make me cringe more than hearing about or imagining a cold-blooded murderer or a rapist going free because of a “technicality” (the term technicality is used here for simplicity’s sake; in actuality, it is the Constitution of the United States that sets an individual free).   Reality is, in a society with such a high rate of repeat offenses, a “criminal” who walks today may be arrested again for another offense in the near future.  According to the Bureau of Justice, “67.5% of prisoners released in 1994 were rearrested within 3 years.”  Such a statistic is quite frightening.  On the other hand, according to the Christian Science Monitor, “only between 0.5 percent and 2.5 percent of all felony arrests are ‘lost’ because of unconstitutional searches” (March 9, 1995; the most recent, reliable statistic I could find).  The current percentage may be even less than that in light of the Supreme Court’s holding in Herring v. U.S. (2009), which extended the reasonable mistake in good faith exception from U.S. v. Leon (1984) to include errors made due to plain negligence.

Regardless of what the percentage is, the focus should be on eliminating all “technicalities.”  In a criminal justice system, the objective should be to attain absolute justice.  Such a notion involves lawfully apprehending wrongdoers and providing them with their day in court.  Both sides should conduct themselves professionally and reasonably so that the facts of the situation at issue may lead to a conclusion and not the facts involved in an unreasonable law enforcement mistake.  As illustrated in “Prosecutors and the ‘Technicalities’ That Set Criminals Free,” unnecessary and unreasonable mistakes can lead to convicted or confessed criminals going free.  The public should not have to pay such prices to attain justice.

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