Legal Rights Afforded to the Accused

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Introduction

Accused persons in the United States have numerous rights most of which stem out of the presumption of innocence. The presumption of innocence is a critical legal principle that considers every suspect innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. The procedures that begin with arrest to the final determination of guilt by a court of law requires the involved law enforcement agencies to act in a manner that demonstrates respect for basic human rights and the innocence of the suspect until the courts prove them otherwise. In the case alongside, John Doe had fundamental rights that sought to guide his interactions with the police officers to ensure that he received fairness in the criminal justice system.

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At the time of his arrest, John Doe began talking possibly incriminating himself. At that point, the law requires police officers to read to the suspect his Miranda rights or warnings. The Miranda rights or the right to silence is an integral aspect of the law that enhances the enforcement of the Fifth Amendment designed to protect suspects from incriminating themselves. When John Doe began speaking, the arresting officers should have told him that he had the right to remain silence since the police would use anything and everything he said against him in a court of law (Harr, Hess & Orthmann, 2011). Such a warning enabled a suspect to make an informed decision, especially when deciding what information to give at the time of his arrest. The Miranda warning further preserves the admissibility of a suspect’s statement especially when a suspect continues to speak even after the police have read the rights to him or her.

After the arrest and before the interview, the arresting officers must follow specific procedures designed to protect the rights of the suspect. First, the police officers should inform any of John Doe’s relations and friends about his arrest. They must consult John Doe and find a person he would wish the police to inform about his predicament. Informing relatives and friends prevents panic since the relatives may assume kidnapping or disappearance. Secondly, the police must provide the suspect with legal advice (Samaha, 2014). The police must inform the suspect that he has the right to an attorney. In case John Doe cannot afford a lawyer, the state must provide one for him. The right to an attorney enhances the quality of justice in the country.

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A grand jury proceeding and a preliminary hearing are pertinent procedures in the American criminal law system that contributes to the dispensation of justice. Both procedures assess the existence of a probable cause. The probable cause is a requirement of the Fourth Amendment and seeks to determine the existence of adequate evidence before the police can arrest a suspect, receive a warrant or even carry out a search. The Grand Jury and Preliminary Hearing are therefore essential stages in criminal justice mandated with the evaluation of the evidence to determine the suitability of a trial. The two evaluate the evidence and recommend a trial depending on their findings on the probable cause in a case.

Despite their common goal, grand jury and a preliminary hearing have numerous differences. First, a preliminary hearing remains open to the public, have a prosecutor, judge, and a lawyer. Grand jury proceedings, on the other hand, employ a few members of the public who act as jurors. The proceedings have prosecutors but lack both a judge and lawyers to create a free and fair environment for the jurors to assess the evidence and determine a probable cause. As such, the two proceedings have different structures.

Grand jury proceedings inspire the witnesses to speak freely without fearing retaliations from any individual related to the proceedings. The jury thus decides if a case continues to a full hearing. However, grand jury decisions are not always unanimous. The law requires a super majority of either 2/3 or ¾ agreement before it can indict a suspect.

A bail bond is a promise that stipulates that a criminal defender will appear in court later. The bail bond comprises of the suspect’s signature and a surety in the form of money. Every citizen has a right to a bond. However, the judge must consider specific factors before setting the bond. Key among the factors is the criminal record of the defendant. John Doe in the case has not committed any crimes in the past. As such, he may enjoy a small amount of money. Another equally important factor is the severity of the crime.

Serious crimes attract hefty bonds with the judges in most cases denying such characters bond (Epstein & Walker, 2013). John Doe’s crime is a petty felony, which may attract a small bond. Personal status and community ties are equally significant factors that judges consider before setting bond. Powerful people with immense influence and resources may always interfere with both the witnesses and evidence. Such people, therefore, attract hefty bonds. John Doe is an insignificant member of the society and may not have the resources to influence the course of justice. As such, Doe is likely to get a minimal bond.

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Arraignment is an equally critical procedure in criminal justice system. Arraignment refers to the first courtroom based proceeding in which the court reads the criminal charging document to a defendant. The procedure informs the defendant of the charges he or she faces. The defendant then gets an opportunity to take a plea, which is always either “guilty” or “not guilty” (Samaha, 2014). The procedure of the court during arraignment begins with the judge reading the charges to a defendant. The court then asks the suspect to take a plea based on his or her understanding of the charges. The court then decides to alter the bail or release the defendants based on their recognizance. The final procedure is the court setting and announcing the dates for future proceedings.

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  1. Epstein, L., & Walker, T. G. (2013). Constitutional law for a changing America. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.
  2. Harr, S., Hess, K. & Orthmann, C. (2011). Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System. New York: Cengage Learning.
  3. Samaha, J. (2014). Criminal procedure. New York: Wadsworth.
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