The Criminal Process
The government is responsible for providing sustainable security to its citizens. On the other hand, its must respect and uphold the constitutional rights of its citizens regardless of whether or not they are involved in criminal activities. In the quest of the government to promote security in the community, the nation has assumed two types of criminal justice procedures. The first is the criminal procedure which aims at punishing crime offenders (Packer, 1968). In this procedure, suspects of criminal activities are perceived guilty unless proved otherwise by a court decision. This means that criminal procedure approach gives priority to security rather than to the constitutional rights of the suspects.
The other procedure is the due process procedure which assumes that a suspect is innocent unless found guilty through a fair and just court trail (Packer, 1968). It is this type of criminal justice procedure that seeks to enable the government to balance law and order with individual freedoms. The author of this paper gives a discussion of the criminal process; types, their definitions, components, and purpose. A discussion on the effectiveness of the Due process criminal process as well as recommendations on possible improvements to the process will also be given.
Definition and purpose of the Criminal Process
Criminal process is defined as the process of identifying, arresting, investigating, charging, convicting and sentencing crime offender in correctional facilities (Scheb, 2009). From this definition, criminal process is found to encompass actions and legal procedures involved from investigation of crime through to the time the convicted criminal is set free from correctional conditions. In its basic purpose, criminal process seeks to fight crime activities in the society by punishing and reforming the perpetuator of such crimes. This is crucial in promoting law and order in the society, an element that form the foundation for sustainable social and economic development in any nation.
The designing and functioning of the criminal process has been defined to promote justice in the community. According to the principles of justice, offenders of crime should be made to pay through punishments that are reflective of the gravity of their activities (Blond, 2007). This is not only based on promoting equitable justice but also for instilling sense of appreciation of wrong doing and thus behavioral change in the victim. To achieve this, the criminal process is guided by numerous rules of the nation. In the American nation, criminal process finds its basis on; the U.S. and state constitutions and codes, court statutes, and federal and state rules of criminal procedure.
In addition to these legal provisions, the criminal process involves three major components. The first is the law enforcement, which is responsible for identifying, arresting, investigating, and taking crime suspects to the court (Blond, 2007). The other component is the court which serves the purpose of making ruling of charges presented against the defendants based on the evidence provided by the law enforcement. The last element of the criminal procedure is the correctional facilities. These facilities are marked with the responsibility of accommodating and correcting convicted crime offenders (Blond, 2007).
Therefore, the purpose of the criminal process is to ensure sustainable security in the community while upholding substantial fairness and justice on crime suspects in the process. This is because the law enforcement should engage in collecting sufficient evidence to provide a strong case against the defendant during court trail. On the other hand, the criminal process serves to reform crime offenders by putting them in correctional facilities; crucial for the realization of sustainable security in the society.
Models of criminal process
The criminal process is divided in two models all aimed at the same objective of mitigating crime in the community but employing different approaches. In other words, the two models of the criminal process provide varied aspects of understanding the criminal law. The first model of criminal process is the crime control model. According to this criminal process, repression of criminal conduct by members in the community is the most important function the criminal process (Packer, 1968). This is because the model views failure by the law enforcement to deal harshly with criminals as a potential cause for the breakdown of law and order in the society.
Based on this reasoning, this model gives priority to lawful conduct by citizens to protect the reputation of the criminal process through appending and convicting criminals. This is because failure in such makes lawful citizens victims of constant crime, a factor that compromises their realization of sustainable social and economic development (Packer 1968). To achieve this, crime control model assumes that suspects of crime activities are guilty unless proved otherwise by the court. It is due to this reason that the crime control model of criminal process is concerned with increased efficiency in the process of apprehending, trying, convicting, and disposing the highest possible number of crime offenders in the society.
The second criminal process model is the due process model. Due process model of the criminal process entail a close consideration for balancing law and orders with individual freedoms (Packer, 1968). This model incorporates the criminal law and the provisions of the constitution of civil rights as well as provisions of numerous court statutes. Due to its concern on individual constitutional freedoms, the due process model perceives suspects of criminal activities as innocent unless found guilty through a fair and just court trail process (Blond, 2007). Indeed, this process has been claimed to be a collection of legal obstacles throughout the criminal proceedings.
In line with this claim, the due process model of criminal process provides numerous rights to the defendant right from the time of arrest through to the first appeal of the case. Such can be evident from the legal prohibition against conducting unwarranted search and seizure by the law enforcement. In addition, this model dictates for the right of the defendant to access of a legal counsel throughout the criminal justice proceedings (Cornell University Law School, 2010). Based on this, violation of these provisions by the due process is deemed a contradiction to the defendant’s constitutionals rights, a factor which has led to overturning of rulings during further hearings.
Comparison on the two criminal process models
Both crime control and due process models of the criminal process enjoy the similarity of engaging to fight criminal conduct in the community. They both involve the normal process of investigating, apprehending, trying, convicting, and punishing crime offenders in the community (Packer, 1968). Another similarity of the two models is that the court is the most instrumental element in deciding whether or not the defendant is guilty. This is despite the difference that crime control model assumes that suspects are guilty while the due process model assumes initial innocence by the crime suspect.
However, unlike crime control model, due process model seeks to respect and uphold the defendant’s constitutional right throughout the criminal justice process (Packer, 1968). This process provides the defendant with a legal authority to gains access to defense advantages such as right to a counsel during the criminal proceeding. On the other hand, the crime control perceives due processes in the criminal process to be inhibiting the efficient fighting of criminal behavior in the community. For this system fighting criminal behavior should be given priority over individual freedoms.
Although the two commonly used models of criminal process are quite different in vision and approach in fighting crime, they all find much application in our current criminal justice system. It is no doubt impossible to operate any of these criminal process models in a vacuum. Due to this reason, there is much need to incorporate the different aspects of these models in the practical criminal process model in our criminal justice system. This could be instrumental in promoting a fair and just respect for individual freedoms while not compromising the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal process in fighting criminal conduct in the society.
It is established that the criminal process serves the ultimate role of ensuring sustainable lawful conduct in the community. This has led to the development of the crime control approach to the criminal process whose aim is to ensure convicting and disposing of as many crime offenders as possible from the community. However, the quest for respecting constitutional rights of individuals involved in crime activities remains a major concern to the fairness of the criminal process. It is due to this process that the due process model has gained much influence to the current criminal process.
Blond, N. (2007). Criminal Procedure. New York: Aspen Publishers.
Cornell University Law School. (2010). Criminal Procedure. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Criminal_procedure
New Jersey Judiciary. (2001). The Criminal Justice Process. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/criminal/crproc.htm
Packer, H. (1968). Two Models of the Criminal Process. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://www.professorgizzi.org/html/packer.pdf
Scheb, J. (2009). Criminal Procedure. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning