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  1. Chapter Topics Crime Policing Arrests The Defendant Prosecution Grand Juries Exclusionary Rules Case Attrition The Criminal Justice Wedding Cake

  2. Crime • Crimes known to the police increased for twenty years, declined in the 1990s and have stabilized the last few years • Data comes from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports • Type I offenses (homicide, rape, arson, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, auto theft, larceny over $50) • Type II offenses (theft, simple assault, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, etc.)

  3. Crime • 1 in 4 crimes is Type I • Fighting crime is a regular campaign slogan, but is a difficult social problem. • Despite money and effort crime remains persistent. • U.S. has the highest crime rate of any Western industrial nation • A large number of American are fearful of crime, however studies show that is not necessarily related to actual risk

  4. Policing • Policing is decentralized (800,000 officers in nearly 18,000 agencies) • Historically connected to party politics • Today regulated by civil service • Modern policing is heavilyinfluenced by problem solving approaches (e.g., community policing)

  5. Arrests • Of crimes brought to the attention of the police, only 20% result in arrest (clearance rate) • varies by type of crime, 46% of violent crimes result in arrest, but only 16% of property offenses • 13.6 million people arrested • drug and property crime arrests are nearly triple the arrests for violent crime

  6. The Defendant • Most defendants are charged with nonviolent offenses • Career criminals make up a disproportionate share of the arrests • Felony defendants are: • younger, male, disproportionately members of minority groups, come from broken homes, less educated, unemployed, single

  7. Initial Appearance • The police must bring an arrested person before a judge “without unnecessary delay”—typically 48 hours • An initial appearance is a defendant’s first encounter with the courts and judicial process • judge advises defendant of rights • typically last a few minutes • for minor crimes, defendants may plead guilty and receive immediate sentence

  8. Initial Appearance • For major crimes, the judge will set bail, schedule next court appearance and appoint a counsel if the defendant is an indigent Bail • Bail is a guarantee that in return for being released from jail, the accused will return to court as needed

  9. Bail • procedures vary depending on seriousness of crime • for minor offenses bail may be posted at the police station (which often has a fixed bail schedule) • for felony or serious misdemeanors the court must set a bond amount • Once amount is set there are four ways to post a bond

  10. Bail • Bond procedure include: • provide cash bond • provide property bond (equity of twice the face amount of bond) • bail bondsman – which posts the bond for the defendant and charges a nonrefundable fee (often 10% of face value of bond) • personal recognizance – judge may release defendant from jail without monetary bail

  11. Bail • The poor often wait in jail, while the rich are able to post bond • studies show that defendants held in jail without bon are more likely to be convicted, and more likely to be sentenced to prison • In serious cases there is a lot of discretion in setting the bail amount • a few defendants are held over without bail

  12. Bail • Over 700,000 people are held in jail (v. prison) • Debate is the goal of bail to: • 1) ensure the appearance of the defendant, or 2) to protect the public • preventive detention emphasizes the public protection aspect and allows judges to hold over those accused of dangerous crimes without bail

  13. Prosecution • Prosecution is found at all major governmental levels: national, state, county and local • may be called U.S. Attorneys, state attorneys general, prosecutor, district attorney, state’s attorney, city attorney • Prosecutors have broad discretion – prosecutors decide which cases to pursue

  14. Filing Charges • The sixth amendment requires the defendant to be given information about the charges against them • a charging document includes the name of the person charged, brief description of how and where the offense was committed and the statute allegedly violated

  15. Filing Charges • Three major types of charging documents: • complaint – is supported by oath or affirmation of an arresting officer, used in misdemeanor or city ordinance violations • information – identical to complaint but signed by prosecutor • indictment – issued by a grand jury (citizens)

  16. Filing Charges • There is considerable discretion in the prosecutor’s decision to follow an arrest with a charge. • the prosecutor controls the “doors to the courthouse” • very little oversight—other than prosecutors are typically elected officials • some police consider every decision not to charge as a repudiation of their policing

  17. Preliminary Hearing • A preliminary hearing is the first time a criminal case is reviewed by someone other than a law enforcement official • an arrested person is entitled to a timely hearing before a neutral judge to determine probable cause for the detention • protects the innocent and provides the defendant with an overview of the case against him • does not require the establishment of guilt—only probable cause

  18. Grand Juries • Grand juries are different from trial juries—they determine probable cause • Two primary functions: • determine whether there is probable cause the defendant committed the crime • protect the public from overzealous prosecutors • issue a true bill if the case continues • grand jury use varies but is used mostly for felonies and capital crimes

  19. Grand Juries • size of the grand jury varies 6 – 23 • normally selected in a manner similar to trial juries • impaneled for a set time and meet periodically • legal protections of criminal court do not apply—the work is done in secret, plurality vote, no right to an attorney • prosecutors dominate process

  20. Exclusionary Rules • many factors affect how the police arrest and prosecutors charge those accused of committing crimes • The Bill of Rights and Supreme Court decisions • Exclusionary Rule – prohibits the prosecutor from using illegally obtained evidence during a trial

  21. Exclusionary Rules • There are three distinct exclusionary rules: • identification of suspects – defendant’s have the right to be assisted by counsel during a police lineup • confessions – no physical or psychological coercion, Miranda rights inform a suspect of their legal guarantees • searches – the gathering of physical evidence must follow certain rules and be truthful and relevant

  22. Exclusionary Rules • Lawyers ask for evidence to be excluded through pretrial motions • pretrial motions are a request to suppress evidence that was illegally obtained • empirical studies show that despite great public concern over the exclusionary rule—relatively few pretrial motions to suppress evidence are actually filed

  23. Exclusionary Rules • Debate centers on whether convictions lost, and the guilty let go because of the suppressed evidence. • it is difficult to resolve this debate because it hard to determine precisely why cases are dropped • we do know that far more cases are dropped because of a lack of evidence or witness problems than are dropped because the prosecutor cannot use illegally obtained evidence.

  24. Case Attrition • The exercise of discretion (by police, prosecutors, judges, etc.) causes many cases to be dropped • out of 100 felony arrests only 55 survive to trial stage • once a case reaches felony court is highly likely to end in a guilty plea or trial verdict of guilty • there are variations across courts in case attrition rates

  25. Why Attrition Occurs • Legal Judgments – at every stage a decision is made about whether there is sufficient legal evidence to move a case forward • Policy Priorities – prosecutors are simply not interested in pursuing some cases (where the punishment may have already occurred), yet very aggressive in pursuing others • Substantive Assessments – some cases are dropped because the officials decide prosecution would serve no useful purpose

  26. Criminal Justice Wedding Cake • Not all cases should be treated or counted the same way • Samuel Walker suggests using a wedding cake as a metaphor—with each layer representing a different type of case but with consistency in each layer • Walker observes that criminal justice officials handle the various layers of the cake very differently

  27. Celebrated Cases • at the top of the wedding cake • dominate the news headlines, but are atypical of most cases • the judicial process is carefully followed • these cases are likely to go to a full jury trial • have considerable impact on the public perception (too much?)

  28. Serious and Lesser Felonies • The second and third layers of the cake are felony cases • Differentiation between the two levels is based on: 1) the seriousness of the crime, 2) the criminal record of the suspect, 3) relationship between the victim and the offender • serious felonies are carefully handled and lesser felonies are dispensed of routinely and quickly

  29. Misdemeanors • misdemeanors far outnumber all other types of cases • half of the misdemeanor cases represent “public order” offenses, fewer than a third represent crimes against persons or property • processed very differently from felonies: routine handling, defendants are arraigned en masse, guilt is rarely contested, punishment is not severe

  30. Conclusion • America’s courts process millions of criminal cases every year—most are routine • Crime rates continue to be high profile and a frequent subject of political campaigns • Crime is persistent (if dropping) despite considerable effort and expenditures • Discretion occurs at every stage of the criminal justice process