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Criminal Procedure

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Lauren Kavanagh

on 10 August 2014

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Transcript of Criminal Procedure

Arrest occurs when a person is taken into police custody.
Police officer usually arrests a person when:
They personally observe a crime
Ex.: theft, robbery, DUI, DWI
They have "probable cause" to arrest
Have facts and circumstances that a person committed or is about to commit a crime
An arrest warrant has been issued
Arrest warrant typically identifies the crime(s) committed, the individual suspected of committing the crime, specifies the location(s) where the individual may be found, gives police authority to arrest the person
Challenging an Unlawful Arrest:
If citizens' constitutional rights are violated, a court may deem the arrest unlawful and dismiss it or throw out certain evidence.
This document is written by the prosecutor
Similar to a complaint in a civil trial
Within the information, the prosecutor describes:
What happened in a series of statements
Shows how the defendant's actions are crimes
Substance can come from police reports and other documents from the police investigation, also complaints from citizens
Pre-Trial Motions
Criminal Trial
Criminal trials usually consist of six phases:
Death Penalty
First recognized death penalty law dates back to eighteenth century B.C.
Death sentences were carried out by:
Beheading, burning, drowning, stoning, quartering
In colonial North America:
the death penalty was influenced by European practices
The death penalty varied from colony to colony
It was argued the death penalty increased criminal behavior
The Nineteenth Century:
Early part of the century, number of capital crimes was reduced
All mandatory capital punishment laws were abolished in 1863
During the Civil War, opposition to the death penalty diminished
Electric chair was introduced
Progressive Period:
Death penalty returned as people worried about the Russian Revolution and World War I
Cyanide gas was introduced
Period of time when both parties exchange information about the facts of the case
Info not disclosed in discovery may not be allowed in trial
You are innocent until proven guilty
Most criminal offenses must be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt"
You are guaranteed a right to trial by jury for criminal offenses that carry a penalty of six or more months in jail
Defendants may be instructed not to testify because:
By testifying, the defendant's past is open to questioning
Past crimes may be brought up
The defendant may be a poor public speaker, making them look guilty
A felony is more severe and given more jail time time than with misdemeanor
If a defendant is "incompetent to stand trial", then they will be placed in a mental hospital until they are competent to stand trial
Criminal statutes have a physical act and mental act in them.
The Fifth and Sixth Amendments give criminal defendants the right to counsel
Criminal Procedure
Arrest, Booking, and Bail
During booking, a police officer:
takes criminal suspect's personal info
records info about the alleged crime
performs a record search of criminal suspect's background
fingerprints, photographs, searches the suspect
takes personal property from the suspect to be returned when released
places suspect in police station holding cell or local jail
For minor offenses, may be given a written citation and released
To ensure the defendant's appearance at trial, a judge examines the nature of the charges.
The court examines:
the weight of the evidence against the defendant
whether he/she was on parole or probation
the seriousness of danger to others in society
evidence of the defendant's character
Examining the history and character the court looks at:
Physical/mental condition
Financial resources/Family ties
Criminal history/history with drug or alcohol abuse
Released defendants must not commit any crimes in the period of release
Defendants may be released with conditions if personal recognizance doesn't assure the defendant's appearance in court. Conditions include:
Limit travel
Refrain from possession of a firearm
Maintain an educational program
Both defendant and government may appeal an adverse bail decision.
Arrest Procedures
The officer doesn't need to use handcuffs or place the arrestee in a police car
Miranda Rights must be read before an interrogation
Police do not need to tell an arrestee why they are under arrest
Police are not allowed to use excessive force or treat an arrestee cruelly
Preliminary Hearing
A "trial before the trial"
Judge decides whether there is enough evidence to force the defendant to stand trial
In the preliminary hearing:
The judge listens to the government and defendant
Prosecutor may call witnesses, introduce physical evidence
Defense cross-examines government's witnesses and calls question to other evidence, seeking to convince the judge the case isn't strong enough and dismiss it before trial
Preliminary hearing may not be held in every case, it changes from state to state
There is always a chance a criminal case will be resolved through a plea bargain before the preliminary trial
Pre-trial motions: arguments that certain evidence should be kept out of the trial, that certain people cannot testify, or the case should be dismissed
These are tools used to set boundaries for the trial
Arguments made during pre-trial motions:
Defense argues that the defendant's confession should be excluded, as it was a response before the Miranda Rights were read
Defense asks to dismiss the case, as there was not "probable cause" for the arrest
Criminal Charges Methods
#1: Information
#2: Indictment
Occurs through a grand jury
Prosecutor will review evidence and give it to a jury
Jury will decide if defendant goes to trial
#3: Citation
Easiest way to bring criminal charges
Police officer may write up a ticket, or citation, for a minor crime
Can only be used to charge someone with an infraction, minor crimes not punishable with prison
Person can either contest it or pay the fine
Information exchanged in discovery:
Each party gets to ask questions from a witness
This helps the party get a fuller understanding of the events and get an idea of what the witness might say if called to testify
Questions are written and directed only to a party in the lawsuit
Party must respond/object in writing and sign a statement that the information is the truth
Requests to admit:
One party will write a series of statements and the other party may only admit or deny the statements
Document Production Requests:
One party will give the other documents relating to the case
Includes police reports, transcripts, corporate records
Include whether either party will use an expert witness
Plea Bargains
In plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plea guilty, usually to a lesser charge, in exchange for a more lenient sentence
Decision to enter/ not enter into a plea bargain is determined by seriousness of crime, strength of evidence, and prospects of a guilty verdict
Validity of plea bargains are dependent on:
Knowing waiver of rights, voluntary waiver, factual basis to support the charges to which the defendant is pleading guilty
Judges are not involved
More than 90% of criminal convictions come from negotiated pleas
The U.S. Sentencing Guideline provisions are very restrictive with plea bargaining.
Plea agreements require approval from the assistant attorney general if:
Courts are being dismissed, the defendant companies are being promised no further prosecution, if particular sentences are being recommended
U.S. attorneys cannot make plea agreements that prejudice civil or tax liability
U.S. attorneys should require all facts of a defendant's fraud against the U.S. when agreeing to a plea bargain
State statutes do not create or prohibit the right to plea bargain
Many states ban plea bargaining in cases of drunk driving and sex offenders
In most states, a prosecutor must inform victims of plea bargaining
Justifications for plea bargains:
Courts are overcrowded, prosecutors' caseloads are overloaded, defendants save time and money
Attorney General of Alaska banned plea bargaining in 1975
If one side fails to hold its end of the agreement, the court will enforce the agreement
Benefits of Defense Plea Bargaining:
Trade risk for certainty, avoid jail time, reduction in sentencing, resolve the issue quickly, avoid stigmatizing sentences, avoid publicity, avoid hassles
Charge Bargaining:
Involves negotiation of specific charges
In return for a "guilty" plea to lesser charge, prosecutor will dismiss higher charges
Sentence Bargaining:
Involves guilty plea to stated charge in return for lighter sentence
Fact Bargaining:
Involves an admission to facts in return for an agreement not to introduce other facts
Plea Bargains
Judicial Economy
Judicial economy: a goal of the judicial system is to conclude cases quickly and efficiently
Plea bargains:
Reduce crowded calendars of court cases
Prevent overcrowded jails
Give prosecutors flexibility
Screen out smaller criminal cases
Result in convictions that are certain
Criminal Trial
Choosing a Jury
The judge will question potential jurors
Defense and prosecution may exclude a number of jurors through peremptory challenges and challenges for cause
Opening Statements:
The prosecutor gives his/her opening statement on behalf of the government than the defense gives theirs
In the opening statements:
The prosecutor presents facts and walks the jury through what the government will try to prove
The defense gives the jury its interpretation of the facts, sets the stage to rebut key government evidence, and present defenses to the crime(s) charged
Witness Testimony and Cross-Examination:
The prosecutor call eyewitnesses and experts to testify
Witness testimony process:
Called to stand and "sworn in", "direct" examination, "cross-examination", "re-direct" examination
The prosecutor introduces physical evidence
Closing Arguments:
The government and defense sum up the case
Jury Instruction:
A process in which the judge gives the jury the set of legal standards it will need to decide whether the defendant is guilty or innocent
Jury Deliberation and Verdict:
The jury attempts to agree on whether the defendant is guilty or not
Once a verdict is reached, the judge is informed and announces the verdict in open court
Pleading the Fifth
Origin: Puritans in 17th century England, eventually brought it to America and it was later put in the Bill of Rights
The defendant cannot be forced to take the witness stand
Once a defendant takes the stand, the Fifth Amendment is waived
Ohio v. Reiner
holds the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination true
Civil defendants don't have the same protection against jury bias with respect to liability
Witnesses in crime trials can plead the Fifth
Plead the Fifth only extends to include communicative evidence
Insanity Defense
A criminal defendant that is found to be legally insane man be found not guilty
Some cases, the defendant may be found guilty, but have a less severe punishment
Defendants using the insanity defense must:
Prove they did not understand what they were doing, failed to know right from wrong, acted on an uncontrollable impulse
Testing for legal insanity:
"M'Naghten Rule": Defendant did not understand what they did or failed to distinguish right from wrong due to a "disease of mind"
"Irresistible Impulse" Test: Defendant was unable to control themselves, which led to a criminal act
"Durham Rule": Regardless of clinical diagnosis, defendant's "mental defect" led to a criminal act
"Model Penal Code" Test for Legal Insanity: Due to a diagnosed mental defect, defendant failed to understand the criminality of his/her actions or was unable to act within the confines of law
Insanity Defense: State Laws
Idaho, Kansas, Montana, and Utah do not allow the insanity defense
Most states use either M'Naghten Rule or the Model Penal Code
New Hampshire is the only state to use the Durham standard
Criminal Evidence
The Law of Criminal Evidence
The law of evidence governs how parties, judges, and juries offer and evaluate the various forms of proof at trial.
Common arguments in favor of evidence law:
To ameliorate pervasive mistrust of juries
To further legal or social policies relating to a matter being litigated
To further substantive policies unrelated to the matter in suit
To create conditions to receive the most accurate facts in trials
To manage the scope and duration of trials
The Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) have been very influential in the development of U.S. evidence law
The FRE applies in all federal courts in criminal and civil cases.
Evidence comes in four basic forms:
Demonstrative evidence
Documentary evidence
Real evidence
Testimonial evidence
For evidence to be admitted at court, it must be:
Relevant: Must help prove or disprove some fact
Material: It is offered to prove a fact that is in dispute in a case
Competent: Certain evidence that accords with certain traditional notions of reliability
Hearsay Evidence
Hearsay is an out of court statement, made in court, to prove the truth of the matter asserted
If a statement meets the requirement for hearsay, the statement may yet be admissible under one of the exceptions to the hearsay rule
Some exceptions are:
Business records, records of vital statistics, "catchall" rule
"Catchall" rule: States that the evidence of a hearsay statement not included in one of the other exceptions may be admitted if it meets the following conditions:
It has sound guarantees of trustworthiness
It is offered to help prove a material fact
It is more probative than other equivalent and reasonably obtainable evidence
Its admission would forward the cause of justice
The other parties have been notified that it will be offered into evidence
Scientific and Forensic Evidence
Scientific evidence is based off knowledge that has been developed by using the scientific method
Forensic evidence examples:
DNA matching, fingerprint identification, hair/fiber evidence
Before being asserted as evidence in a trial, scientific theory must be established in the scientific community and be generally accepted as the truth
If not generally accepted evidence, it will go through mini-trials to determine its validity
Different types of punishments:
Fines, jail/prison time, probation, community service
Usually takes place right after convictions for infractions and minor misdemeanors
In serious felonies, the sentencing judge will consult with the prosecutor, the defense, and probation department
Sentencing judge will also consider case-specific factors, including:
Defendant's criminal history, nature of the crime, the manner in which it was committed, the impact on victims, defendant's personal, economic, and social circumstances, regret or remorse expressed by the defendant
Alternative Sentences
Suspended Sentences:
A judge refrains from handing down a sentence or decides on a sentence, but doesn't carry it out
Reserved for less serious crimes or first-time offenders
Unconditional suspended sentence:
Suspends the sentence, no strings attached
Conditional suspended sentence:
Judge can hold off from imposing/executing the punishment as long as the defendant fulfills condition of the suspension
Releases defendant back into community
Granted to first-time or low-risk offenders
Comes with conditions that restrict behavior; less freedom
Imposed to punish the offender, help compensate the state for the offense, and deter and future criminal acts
Payment made to the victims to restore them financially to the point before the crime
Court Ordered Community Service:
Usually accompanied with another sentence
Deferred Adjudication/ Pretrial Diversion
Takes defendants out of ordinary process of prosecution so they can complete certain conditions
Typically for drug offenses and first-time offenders
Sentencing Factors
The Eighth Amendment prevent excessive punishments from being imposed
Certain statutes provide the appropriate punishment
Common factors include:
whether the offender is a "first-time" or repeat offender, whether anyone was hurt, whether the offender in genuinely contrite
The defendant and attorney for the government have an opportunity to make a statement in mitigation of punishment
Types of Sentences
Concurrent: Served at the same time as another sentence
Consecutive: Sentences for multiple crimes are tacked on each other and begin when the previous ends
Deferred: The execution is postponed
Determinate: For a fixed period of time
Final: Puts an end to a criminal case
Indeterminate: "No more than"/"no less than" a certain prescribed duration of time
Life: Spends remainder of life in jail
Mandatory: Created by state statute
Maximum: Outer limits of a punishment
Minimum: Minimum punishment or time a convicted person must spend in prison
Presumptive: Specifies a baseline sentence for the judge
Straight: Fixed sentence without a maximum or minimum
Suspended: Withholding/postponing pronouncing a sentence or postponing the execution of a sentence
Judges determine a convicted defendant's punishment
When determining a punishment, a judge will consider:
The defendant's criminal history, the circumstances the crime was committed under, does the defendant feel remorse, the mental state of the criminal defendant, was anyone hurt
Three Strikes
"Three Strikes" statute provides mandatory life imprisonment if a convicted felon:
Has been convicted of a serious violent felony, has two or more previous convictions (one that is a serious violent felony)
Serious violent felony:
Murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, kidnapping, robbery
Primary focus is to contain recidivism
Have been debated whether effective and constitutional.
Lockyer v. Andrade
upholds the constitutionality of the law
Mandatory Sentences
Requires judges to impose similar sentences on people convicted of the same offense
If sentencing isn't mandatory, judges "fit the punishment to the offender"
Specific objectives sought by punishment:
Retribution: Punish an offender for the crime by keeping them off the streets
Rehabilitation: Meant to mend the criminal ways and to encourage the adoption of a socially acceptable lifestyle
Deterrence: Meant to steer someone from committing a crime for fear of the punishment
Gives the convicted person a chance to remain in the community
Need to follow certain court-ordered rules
Meet with probation officer, pay fines, obeying all laws
Probation usually lasts one to three years
If probation conditions are violated:
Probation could be revoked, jail time, heavy fines
Keeps a convicted person out of jail, while parole is time after someone gets out of jail
Death Penalty Challenges
Prior to the 1960s, the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments were interpreted as permitting the death penalty
Early 1960s, death penalty was declared "cruel and unusual" and unconstitutional
U.S. v. Jackson
: Supreme Court held death penalty was unconstitutional being imposed by recommendation of a jury
Crampton v. Ohio
McGautha v. California
: Court stated that guiding a capital sentencing discretion was "beyond present human ability"
Temporary Abolition of the Death Penalty
Furman v. Georgia
Supreme Court set the standard that a punishment would be "cruel and unusual" if:
to severe for the crime, it were arbitrary, it offended society's sense of justice, it were not more effective than a less severe penalty
Supreme Court voided 40 death penalty statutes, commuting 629 death row inmates' sentences, suspended the death penalty
The Supreme Court opened the door for states to revise death penalty statutes
Supreme Court held the death penalty as constitutional under the Eighth Amendment
Approved bifurcated trials
Approved the practice of automatic appellate review of convictions and sentence
Approved proportionality review
1977, lethal injection was introduced
Death Penalty
Atkins v. Virginia
: Supreme Court ruled the execution of mentally retarded persons as cruel and unusual punishment and prohibited
Roper v. Simmons
: Supreme Court ruled the execution of persons under the age of 18 to be cruel and unusual
First 150 years of the country's existence, executions were either through hanging or by firing squad
1880s, electric chair was used
After 1982, lethal injection was used and is still the most common use
Since the invention of the lethal injection, average 46 people are executed per year
2001-2010: 551 executions in 27 states:
8 executed by electrocution, 1 by firing squad, 542 executed by lethal injections
317 were white, 180 were black, 45 were Latino, 6 were Native American, 1 was Asian, 2 were other
7 were female, 544 were men
33 states still use the death penalty:
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming
Death Penalty at Federal Level
Federal government has employed capital punishment:
Murder of government official, kidnapping resulting in death, running a large-scale drug enterprise, treason
1988, new federal death penalty statute was enacted for murder in the course of drug-kingpin conspiracy
1994, President Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which expanded federal death penalty to 60 crimes
1996, President Clinton signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which was in response to the Oklahoma City bombing
Criminal Appeals
Criminal Appeals
After being convicted of a crime, one may appeal their case, or ask for a higher court to review the case and look for legal errors
In an appeal, the court reviewing the case only looks at the record of the proceedings in the lower court
Most states require that an appellant notify the courts and government of the intent to appeal soon after a conviction or sentence
It is common for convicted defendants to appeal their convictions
Federal appellate courts follow the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
Most appellate courts don't hear oral arguments
Appeals are filed with the next higher court
Most appeals are inexpensive
To have an appeal heard, a substantial error must have been made
Two basic grounds for appeal:
Lower court made a plain error, the weight of the evidence does not support the verdict
The number of appeals depends on the number of higher courts there are
Writ and Habeas Corpus
Appeal notices must be filed within 30 days of the ruling in a state court and within 60 days in a federal court
Not all judgements can be appealed
The number of successful appeals in low
Writ: A directive from a higher court ordering a lower court or government official to take a certain action in accordance with the law
Writs are immediate orders and don't need a final verdict, unlike an appeal
Common ground for seeking a writ:
Defense failed to make a timely objection at the time of the alleged error, urgency, when an attorney has failed to investigate a possible defense
Writ of habeas corpus: A judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether the person was imprisoned lawfully and whether the person should be released from custody
A court order to "produce the body"
A.k.a. "the Great Writ"
Reversing a Conviction
Appellate courts resist overruling trial court judgements
A guilty verdict will only be overturned if the trial court made an error of law that patently or significantly contributed to the trial's outcome
Most errors are deemed harmless
Appellate courts will rarely interfere with sentencing
Full transcript