Criminal Procedures [Research Paper Example]

A criminal procedure refers to the attribution process of criminal law. It safeguards against wrong application of criminal law and capriccios treatment of criminal suspects (Samaha, 2014). Criminal procedures are designed to implement constitutional rights of suspected criminals and defendants, starting with the first police contact and continuing through to interrogation, arrest, investigation, court trial, sentencing, and appeals.

Apparently, most nations with a democratic system and the rule of law put the burden proof of criminal procedures on prosecution. It means that prosecution has the responsibility to prove that a criminal suspect is guilty beyond doubt as opposed to getting the defense prove innocence of the defendant, resolving any doubt in favor of the accused (Samaha, 2014).

Primary constitutional provisions on criminal procedures are found in the IV, V, VI, and VIII Amendments of the United States Constitution. These amendments cover Warrantless Searches and Arrests, as well as the right against self-incrimination (Ruschmann, 2009).

This paper will encompass a discussion of three issues in criminal procedures, which include Miranda Rights and Interrogations, Exclusionary Rule and Exceptions to it, and Warrantless Searches and Arrests. Further, the paper will present three cases in support of each issue. Lastly, a summary of the paper will be provided where issues discussed will be compared and their significance will be stated.

Miranda Rights and Interrogations

The Miranda warning, commonly refered to as the Miranda rights/rule, is a warning given by the US police to criminal suspects in custody prior to interrogation to preserve acceptability of their statements against them in criminal procedures (Burgan, 2006). Literature indicates that historically the police were too intimidating while questioning suspects (Ruschmann, 2009). This frightened them into confessing crimes they had not committed.

The Miranda warning is viewed as a criminal procedure rule stating that the law enforcement has an obligation to defend a suspect in custody and under direct interrogation or its functional equivalent from violating his/her Fifth Amendment rights against forced self-incrimination (Burgan, 2006).

Several cases support the Miranda Rights and Interrogations. The first case is that of Miranda v. Arizona. In this case, the Supreme Court were for the notion that admission of a provoked implicating statement by a criminal suspect who was not aware of these rights violated the Fifth and Sixth Amendments rights to counsel through integration of these rights into law of the state (Burgan, 2006). Therefore, if law enforcement officials refuse to offer a Miranda warning to a criminal suspect in their custody, they may question that individual and act upon the insight gained, but cannot use statements given by that individual as evidence against him in a criminal trial.

The Miranda v. Arizona United States Court ruling 384 U.S 436 is the origin of Miranda warnings. The Supreme Court of the United States stated that Ernesto Arturo Miranda’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights had been sullied during his arrest and trial for kidnapping, armed robbery, and rape of a handicapped woman (Burgan, 2006).

The ruling set the following warning and accompanying rights:

· A suspect has the right to keep silent,

· Everything that a suspect says can be used against him/her in a court of law,

· A suspect has a right to a lawyer who is allowed to be present during police questioning,

· If a suspect cannot afford to hire a lawyer, they will be provided with one to represent them,

· A suspect can petition a right to remain silent prior to or during questioning and, if he or she does so, the questioning must stop,

· A suspect can petition a right to have the attorney present and the questioning must be postponed till the attorney arrives.

In another 2010 case Berghuis v. Thompkins, the United States Supreme Court advanced rules for police questioning (Samaha, 2014). The court declared that criminal suspects who had been read the Miranda warnings and who indicated they understood them had to openly state during or prior to the questioning that they wanted to be silent to protect themselves against self-incrimination. If a suspect speaks to the police before petitioning the Miranda right to remain silent or at any point before the interrogation, words they utter may be used against them in a court of law. In addition, the court ruled that police officers could start the second interrogation of a criminal suspect who had invoked his Miranda rights after two weeks had elapsed from the date of the first questioning (Samaha, 2014). In this case, it is needless for the police to give the criminal suspect another Miranda warning. According to the Supreme Court, the Miranda warning given previously remains in effect; hence, statements given by the suspect in the second questioning constitute a waiver of the right to remain silent.

The most important addition to the Miranda rights is the end of the traditional question that stated “do you understand these rights as they have been read to you”. In 2010, a murder suspect failed to acknowledge his Miranda rights and later made statements that incriminated him for the crime (Samaha, 2014). The court declared that the liability was on the criminal suspect for petitioning his Miranda rights and failing to acknowledge them, which resulted in a waiver of his rights.

The third case in support of the Miranda Rights and Interrogations is the California v. Prysock case (Israel, Kamisar, & LaFave, 2003). In this case, a criminal suspect was arrested for robbery, first-degree murder, and burglary. The police officer informed the respondent of his Miranda rights. The suspect refused to talk. Parents of the suspect arrived and were informed of the rights again. At this time, he gave a statement, which was used against him in the court. The California Court of Appeals of the Fifth Appellate District reversed conviction of the respondent and ordered a novel trial founded on the base that he was denied his Miranda rights. The court petitioned for the Writ of certiorari and asked for a review of judgment. Additionally, the court held that inflexibility of the Miranda rule did not encompass precise enunciation of the given warnings.

Exclusionary Rule and Exceptions to it

The US constitutional law provides various legal principles. One such principle is the exclusionary rule, which states that facts obtained or investigated in breach of the constitutional rights of the accused are at times excluded from a criminal trial (Maclin, 2012). It is founded on the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights and its aim is to defend constitutional rights by protecting unlawful seizures and searches (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). The rule is also intended to act as a deterrent among police and prosecutors who obtain proof in an illegal manner, thus violating the Fifth Amendment that protects citizens from being forced to become witnesses against themselves (O’Connor, 2006). The right of having a counsel is guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment. Most states in the US have formulated exclusionary rules for unlawfully obtained proof in accordance with their statutes or constitutions. Sometimes, the rule is termed as a legal technicality as it provides defendants with protection that fails to address if the offense has been really committed. With regard to this, the exclusionary rule is in line with the Fifth Amendment’s explicit rule that protects individuals from double threat (Maclin, 2012). The exclusionary rule is applicable to all people living in the United States, both migrants and citizens.

The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine initially created in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. U.S. (1920) is a kind of proof that is obtained by the prosecution or police through an unlawful action in order to achieve an incriminating result (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). The government is not prohibited by the exclusionary rule from bringing in unlawfully obtained proof to question trustworthiness of the statement provided by a defendant during trial. This exemption is acknowledged by the Supreme Court to prevent lying under oath (Maclin, 2012).

However, the exclusionary rule does not always hold as there are multiple exceptions to it. In specific situations, the exclusionary rule fails to apply and proof obtained by the prosecution is allowed in court. Situations in which the rule does not apply include the independent source doctrine, the inevitable discovery rule, the good faith expression, and the probable cause/search incident to arrest (Maclin, 2012). The independent source doctrine states that if both lawful and unlawful means are used to obtain evidence, then such proof is admissible in a court of law (O’Connor, 2006). The inevitable discovery rule states that proof is admissible in a court if such proof, although gathered unlawfully, would have ultimately been obtained in a lawful way (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). The good faith expression affirms that if the police obtain proof using a warrant that is considered as justly provided, such proof is admissible in court albeit presence of technical issues is linked with the warrant afterwards. The last exception is the probable cause, which states that if an officer makes an arrest with no legal warrant, such proof is allowed in court if there have been obvious grounds for the conduct and a legal search is carried out at once (O’Connor, 2006).

The issue of protecting constitutional rights of defendants as upheld by the exclusionary rule and exceptions, which exist to ensure that in some situations the rule does not hold, has been evidenced in many cases in the US judicial system. These cases indicate application of appropriate criminal procedures whereby constitutional rights do not compromise criminal justice. The good faith exception states that proof should not be ruled out if it is gathered by police or prosecutors who rationally depend on warrants, which in turn become void (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). This is evidenced by the case of Arizona v. Evans, 514 U.S. 1 (1995). The second case is Maryland v. Macon. 472 U.S. 463 (1985) showing that proof primarily gathered during an illegal seizure or search may afterwards become acceptable if it is later acquired using a constitutionally legal seizure or search (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). The exclusionary rule also failed to apply in Davis v. U.S.131 S. Ct. 2419 (2011) whereby the Supreme Court affirmed that when officers performed a search while depending on a compulsory appellate precedent, there were no exceptions (Maclin, 2012).

Warrantless Searches and Arrests

Some searches and arrests can be made without a legal warrant. According to the Supreme Court, warrantless searches, seizures, and arrests made by policeofficers comply with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution provided that they are realistic (Acker & Brody, 2011). The Fourth Amendment makes this exception of warrantless constraint in order to avoid obstructing duties of police officers. The exception has been made despite the court’s endeavors to balance duties of officers and interests and privacy of citizens. Warrantless searches prevent witnesses and suspects from running away, as well as destruction of proof (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). Circumstances, under which warrantless arrest or search can be made, include “hot pursuit”, destruction of proof, and exigent circumstances (Acker & Brody, 2011).

The Fourth Amendment permits officers to conduct warrantless arrests when unlawful activities are committed in their presence. For instance, officers have the right to perform a warrantless arrest of individuals who commit offenses in public places despite having adequate time to apply for a warrant. However, the officer must have a probable cause that an offense has been committed (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). “Hot pursuit” dogma also allows officers to conduct warrantless arrests for crimes committed in private places. This is evidenced in the Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 [1967]) case.

When an officer realistically supposes that an illegal act is taking place in a public place, the officer is allowed to stop individuals suspected of taking part in the action and perform a vigilantly limited external search for weapons, which might be used against the police. This is evidenced in the case of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 [1968]. Besides, the officer is allowed to ask the suspect to produce identification. Although the suspect is not compelled to agree to it, a failure to produce identification may be obvious grounds for arrest as evidenced in the case People v. Loudermilk, 241 Cal. Rptr. 208 (Cal. App. 1987) (Acker & Brody, 2011). The type of warrantless search explained here is referred to as a Terry stop/frisk. It is intended to safeguard officers from concealed weaponry, which may be used to attack them. This is similar to legal arrests and searches, which do not necessarily require a warrant. The Fourth Amendment allows the police to perform a search of a suspected individual, clothing, as well as the surrounding locale. Justification of this warrantless search is made on the basis that officers are able to guard themselves from any concealed weapon.

Another circumstance in which officers may conduct a warrantless search is when they are acting in good faith (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). This means that any search or arrest made using a flawed warrant or without one is vindicated. According to the Supreme Court, a search conducted using a warrant, which is afterwards acknowledged as void, is still believed to be rational by the Fourth Amendment (Acker & Brody, 2011). However, this is justified on the condition that such a warrant has been given by the magistrate, while the flaw has not been caused by the officer’s dishonesty. United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 [1984] is a good example to illustrate this. The exception was established to protect the police who found themselves using an allegedly legal warrant while performing their duties.

Exigent circumstances are a justification provided while conducting warrantless searches or arrests. It exists when there are cases of a serious offence or when the probability of a suspect destroying the proof is high. These circumstances allow officers to enter private dwellings without a warrant, which is required by the Constitution, and conduct searches, as well as arrest suspected individuals (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). If exigent circumstances do not exist, then officers are not allowed to enter a private dwelling without a warrant. It is important for a court to determine rationality of exigent circumstances. This helps in establishing whether the officer’s conduct has justifiable. The court achieves this by assessing all circumstances, which encompass seriousness of the crime, and whether a suspected person has been running away.

Emergency situations qualify for exigent circumstances. Such situations as a threat to life, disaster, or terrorist attack have probable cause and, therefore, no warrant is necessitated. These kinds of warrantless investigations meet requirements of the Constitution provided that they are performed with the key reason of establishing the cause and controlling the situation. According to the Supreme Court, emergency circumstances, which imperil individuals’ life, are exigent in nature as evidenced in U.S. v. Holloway 2002 (O’Connor, 2006). In spite of this, police departments are required to make sure that they formulate procedures, policies, and guidelines. These help in providing sufficient and appropriate guidance to law enforcement officials on what comprises an exigent circumstance.

Summary and Conclusion

As discussed in this paper, the Exclusionary Rule and Exceptions to it, warrantless searches and arrests, and Miranda Rights and Interrogations are some of the legal principles upheld by the US Constitution. As evidenced, the exclusionary rule is aimed at protecting constitutional rights of defendants. This is achieved by excluding proof obtained through violation of constitutional rights of defendants from the criminal trial. The exclusionary rule is founded on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution. Its aim is to safeguard individuals from unlawful seizures and searches conducted by police officers. It also deters officers and prosecutors who unlawfully obtain evidence by breaching the Fifth Amendment. The rule is applicable to all people living in the US. However, there exist certain exceptions to the exclusionary rule. These exceptions make evidence obtained by police officers (during an illegal seizure or search with or without a warrant) to be acceptable in a court trial. Nevertheless, police officials must have a probable cause.

Similar to the exclusionary rule, warrantless searches and arrests are upheld by the Constitution under the Fourth Amendment. The amendment makes exceptions of a warrant requirement while conducting searches and arrests. The aim is to prevent obstruction of the work of law enforcement officials. There are various situations when officers are allowed to conduct warrantless searches. These encompass exigent circumstances when the suspect is deemed to have a high probability of destroying evidence, when offense committed in the presence of an officer, or when the officer is acting in good faith. However, officers should have a probable cause that an offense has been committed. Aspects of good faith expressions are also evident in both issues. In both cases, the court has endeavored at striking balance between interests and privacy of citizens and practical duties of law enforcement officers.

Similarly, the Miranda rule is among exclusions that have been developed to reinforce rights of criminal suspects held in police custody. The warning entails protecting a person’s right relating to interrogation against one’s will. Initially, the police were intimidating in their questioning and forced people to confess crimes they had not committed. The Miranda rule is significant as it prevents individuals from incriminating themselves in a court trial when they do not understand their constitutional rights. In other words, if criminal procedures violate the Miranda rights of individuals by not advising them of their constitutional rights, their statements cannot incriminate them.


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Israel, J. H., Kamisar, Y., & LaFave, W. (2003). Criminal procedure and the constitution: Leading Supreme Court cases and introductory text. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing

Maclin, T. (2012). The supreme court and the Fourth Amendment’s exclusionary rule. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

O’Connor, T. (2006). Search and seizure: A guide to rules, requirements, tests, doctrines, and exceptions. Retrieved from

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