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The American constitution has undergone various reforms that are imperative in enhancing justice. Initially, the loopholes in the American constitution paved way for injustices and wrongful convictions. After realizing the constitutional problems that undermined the justice of the innocent individuals, the American parliament instigated various legal amendments (Hamer, 2014). The U.S parliament provides constitutional safeguards through the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth amendments found in its constitution. Such amendments have brought remarkable changes to the achievement of justice through the incorporation the Miranda warnings, the Rights to Counsel, the Speedy Trials, the exclusionary regulations among others (Hamer, 2014). This essay analyses the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth amendments of the American constitution, their application to the adult and the juvenile court proceedings, and their influence on the routine court procedures.
The Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment of the American constitution protects the innocent civilians and suspects from unreasonable police searches and seizures that infringe the human rights (Davies, 1999). This clause prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures on the individuals, their documents, and their houses, unless there are valid oaths or affirmations to approve the searches. In the courts, some conditions must apply. Issuance of the warrants– regarding searches and seizures carried out with a warrant, the conditions are that, the warrants must come from a neutral magistrate or judicial officer (Davies, 1999). A probable cause– There must be a probable reason or reasonable facts for the issuance of a search warrant. Particularity– A search warrant must explicitly state the places that deserve searching, and the things or the persons that deserve apprehensions to limit unreasonable searches and seizures.
The Fourth Amendment also governs the valid searches and seizures that are without warrants. Some exceptional cases allow searches and seizures without the issued warrants (Davies, 1999). Police officers shall carry out warrantless searches and seizures, when dealing with lawful detentions, search incidences for specific arrests, vessel searches, vehicular searches, consent searches, border searches, drug issues, administrative searches, and other legitimate circumstances (Davies, 1999). In the court proceedings, the law enforcers must follow the due process of carrying out lawful warrant and warrantless searches or seizures. Both in the adult and juvenile court proceedings, all searches and seizures undertaken in breach of the conditions that govern the warrant and warrantless search conditions are illegal (Davies, 1999). Judges shall consider the warranted searches unlawful if the police officers ignore the conditions of the warrant and warrantless searches.
Influence of the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment has fostered the collection of effective evidence. This is because the amendment reduces chances of having false evidences in the courts. The Fourth Amendment helps to collect legally affirmed evidences. This is because the amendment requires only the qualified judicial officers to issue the search and seizure warrants (Davies, 1999). Sufficient magistrate facts make officers determine the reasonable causes of undertaking a search warrant or a seizure. Nonetheless, the legal immunities in the Fourth Amendment may impede the achievement of justice in some instances. Selfish interests– the fourth amendment allows warrantless searches and seizures in the vessel and vehicles (Davies, 1999). Valuable goods come through vessels and police officers may maliciously claim false ownership or possession of the seized goods and breach the privacy of the defendants.
The Fifth Amendment
The Fifth Amendment of the American constitution claims that nobody shall be answerable for a capital, or an infamous crime, unless there is intervention from a Grand Jury, and with an exception of the cases that involve land disputes, naval forces or militia attacks (Roxas, 2002). A person shall not be answerable to a crime of a similar nature, nor shall he/she remain compelled in any criminal offense or stand as a witness to himself or herself, or dispossessed of his/her property, life, or liberty, without following the due process of law. Roxas (2002) notes that the Fifth Amendment of the American constitution gives people immunity against an infamous crime, a double jeopardy, or a self-incrimination through the Grand Jury interventions. The Grand Jury applies some legal procedures to protect the accused.
An Infamous Crime- a convicted defendant under an infamous punishment has a legal right to refute the trial unless the grand jury intervenes in the indictment. The Grand Jury- A Grand Jury is a panel of judges that returns indictments in the criminal offenses (Roxas, 2002). In both the juvenile and the adult courts, the Grand Jury can acquit a defendant without a possible re-prosecution by the government, or allow an acquittal by a trial judge without further interference from the complainant. The Fifth Amendment also carries the aspect of double jeopardy, where the final verdict is exempt from re-prosecutions due to mistrials, re-prosecution after the appeals from the defendant, or re-prosecutions due to acquittals made by the Grand Jury (Roxas, 2002). The constitutional prohibition against dual prosecutions and personal incrimination helps defendants to evade pretrial oppressions.
Impact on the Court Processes
Making crucial rulings– the Fifth Amendment often influences the ruling process of the courts. According to Roxas (2002), the judges must uphold the conditions of the Fifth Amendment that provide the defendants with the opportunity to choose certain conditions of the custodial interrogations, and to refuse to testify in a criminal offense or in a civil case. Constitutional restrictions– the immunities that the defendants enjoy from several constitutional restrictions, through the Grand Jury, sometimes delay the judgments or impede the achievement of justice (Roxas, 2002). Collection of evidence– The Fifth Amendment highly affects the due process of collecting evidence and presenting it to the courts. The law influences the police interrogations, the case hearing processes, and the decisions about the forms of the punishments that the defendants must endure in a given case.
The Sixth Amendment
The Sixth Amendment provides the accused with certain constitutional immunities in the law courts. The Fifth Amendment requires that in all the criminal lawsuits, the accused persons must enjoy speedy or public trials, or judgments from an unbiased jury of the State or a District (Minas, 2002). Correspondingly, the defendants have the right to remain informed about the nature of the accusations against them, to know the witnesses against them, to obtain witnesses to testify in their favor, and to request for the assistance of the court counsel. According to Minas (2002), the Sixth Amendment applies to the lawbreakers who are American citizens, the American immigrants, or the American citizens brought to America for certain breaches in the foreign countries. Convictions are pursuant to several conditions that are applicable in the federal courts.
A speedy trial or a public trial– the Sixth Amendment upholds the rights to a speedy trial that safeguards the defendants from oppressive incarcerations and undue pretrial repressions (Minas, 2002). Public trial is a constitutional provision under the Sixth Amendment that allows the defendants to influence the legal proceedings by choosing to have their trials undertaken in public. Right to trial by an unbiased panel of judges– the Sixth Amendment affirms the Bill of Rights where the defendants have the legal rights and liberties to choose a justice administration process that supports the use of a jury trial (Minas, 2002). Notice of accusation and knowledge about the witnesses– defendants shall enjoy constitutional rights to remain notified about the accusations against them, the witnesses against them, and choose witnesses or a court counsel to defend them.
Impact on the Court Activities
The Sixth Amendment influences the prosecution process, the hearing process, the testifying process, and the judgment process. The Sixth Amendment gives the defendants the opportunity to remain notified about the case accusations. Minas (2002) states that such chances give the lawbreakers a chance to organize a powerful defense system that offsets the prosecution, or organize an escape plan. The Sixth Amendment also influences the hearing process as the defendants have the legal freedom to detect the place of trial, the form of jury arrangements, and the form of a trial that the court should endorse against them (Minas, 2002). Such immunities on the defendants force judges to enhance their judicial intelligence. The Sixth Amendment also influences the testifying process and the judgment process as the defendant has the judicial power to know the prosecution witnesses.
In ensuring that the due process of enforcing law does not undermine the rights and privileges of the suspects in the court proceedings, the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth amendments are very important in the American constitution. The three amendments provide the defendants with legal immunities against the unreasonable searches and seizures, false implications against certain crimes, and other procedural safeguards that offset wrongful indictments in the courts. Through the three amendments, the accused persons are free from coercion, manipulation, and unfair treatments during the pretrial period. However, the amendments highly influence the hearing processes, the prosecution processes, the testifying processes, and the judgment processes during the court trials.
Davies, T. (1999). Recovering the Original Fourth Amendment. Michigan Law Review, 98 (2), 547-750.
Hamer, D. (2014). Wrongful convictions, appeals, and the finality principle: the need for a criminal cases review commission. UNSW Law Journal, 37(1), 270-311.
Minas, M. (2002). Blurring the Line: Impact of Offense-Specific Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 93(1), 195-226.
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Roxas, A. (2002). Questions Unanswered: The Fifth Amendment and Innocent Witnesses. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 93(1), 259-288.