Criminal Procedure (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The framework of laws and rules that govern the administration of justice in cases involving an individual who has been accused of a crime, beginning with the initial investigation of the crime and concluding either with the unconditional release of the accused by virtue of acquittal (a judgment of not guilty) or by the imposition of a term of punishment pursuant to a conviction for the crime.
Criminal procedures are safeguards against the indiscriminate application of criminal laws and the wanton treatment of suspected criminals. Specifically, they are designed to enforce the constitutional rights of criminal suspects and defendants, beginning with initial police contact and continuing through arrest, investigation, trial, sentencing, and appeals.
The main constitutional provisions regarding criminal procedure can be found in Amendments IV, V, VI, and VIII to the U.S. Constitution. The FOURTH AMENDMENT covers the right to be free from unreasonable searches and arrests:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly...
(The entire section is 7628 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Criminal Procedure (Great American Court Cases)
Contrasting Perspectives on the Legal System
Many Americans come in contact with the U.S. legal system during their lifetimes, some for just cause and others without sufficient reason. From the "bottom"hat is, from the perspective of the person charged with a crimehe system of criminal justice may seem like a maze through which the individual is processed by means that often appear arbitrary and sometimes seem hostile or discriminatory in nature. There is little that is dignifying about undergoing arrest and incarceration; but under the constitutional system, persons in the United States enjoy a variety of protections against abuses of their basic rights.
Viewed from the "top"hat is, from the perspective of legal scholarshipriminal procedure in America is not so much concerned with the concrete paraphernalia of police activity, such as handcuffs and jail cells, as it is with qualities considerably more abstract. Specifically, criminal procedure is governed by a quartet of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and by the legal interpretation of those amendments which has developed over the years since their adoption.
Four Constitutional Cornerstones
Much of contemporary understanding with regard to criminal procedure arises from interpretations of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendmentsdopted along with seven others...
(The entire section is 2145 words.)