An Exploration of Variation in Criminal Sentencing It is an accepted fact that there is variation in the criminal justice system. Some of this difference is due to natural discrepancy in the severity of charges levied against a defendant; obviously those with severer or more numerous charges might also receive a longer or harsher criminal sentence. However, when the criminal charges are held constant, there emerges a pattern of variation that cannot be explained simply by a difference in severity or quantity. Extralegal factors, defined as variables that are not supposed to impact a sentencing decision, include race and ethnicity, sex, and age, and research has consistently demonstrated that these factors do play a hand in criminal proceedings. Specifically, these extralegal factors may influence pretrial detainment, the type of punishment defendants are given (e.g., a period of probation versus a prison term), and may even contribute to biased use of the death sentence.
After the arrest or citation comes the prosecution and pretrial. The prosecutor considers the evidence by the police and makes a decision whether or not to file charges against the accused. If charges are filed, the first court appearance is held. The accused will then appear in court and be informed of their charges and rights. The judge will then decide whether there is enough evidence to hold or release the accused.
Although there are a number of factors that can influence an eyewitness to make an erroneous identification, it is first and foremost important to understand the deceitful nature of memory. Research has found that memory is often not as reliable as one might think, although memories can be true, they are without a question shaped by the way in which memories are encoded, stored, processed, and retrieved (Ross, Tredoux, & Malpass, 2014). Additionally, post-event information that becomes available to individuals by police officers, prosecutors, other eye witnesses, media, friends, family, etc., not only influencing how the eyewitness remembers the crime, but can also alter witness’s memories of the perpetrator (Wise, Sartori, Magnussen, & Safer, 2014). Other factors that may contribute to an eyewitness’s level could be the way in which law enforcement retracts the witness’s identification, whether they used tactics such as confirming the witness’s feedback, repeated questioning, or using leading questions (Wise, et al., 2014). Therefore, the confidence level of how well an eyewitness remembers the events of crime and what the perpetrator looks like, may not be as reliable as jurors might think.
The importance of a jury makes it necessary to understand its function, strengths and weaknesses in a criminal matter. Both the state and federal courts follow the same procedure in impaneling the jury. Most states do not accord minors the right to jury trial in court proceedings related to juvenile delinquency. The jury essentially hears the evidence presented against the defendant and potential defenses. It will then weigh the evidence and ultimately determine if the evidence satisfies the criminal offenses that the defendant has been charged, beyond any reasonable doubt.
There are several reasons to why people falsely confess to crimes. This will include different analysis from studies carried out by criminal psychologist in order to understand why certain people are prone to falsely confessing to crimes. There are different characteristics to understanding why people confess falsely confess to crimes such as; individual differences, personal and situational factors, and Ethnicity. This essay also aims to identify what leads certain individuals to confess to crimes they did not commit even when the crime can lead to long term prison sentence. Experts within this field suggest that blind eye of justice greatly adds to the reasons to which people still falsely confess to crimes whether it be the law enforcement investigator who continues to pressure a suspect or often times an overzealous prosecutor who refuses to accept that the confession does not march the facts of the case and many reasons.
As opposed to factual guilt (the person ‘did it’), legal guilt merely means that a jury of the defendant’s peers is convinced without reasonable doubt. As can be seen, this leaves room for possible discrepancies. Before a trial can proceed, certain events must take place. The first is the arraignment of the defendant, which can happen anytime between arrest and a logical, non-specific time before the trial itself. Arraignment consists of the court reading to the defendant the substance of the charge, and calls on the subject to enter a plea within a given time.
A distinguishing feature of miscarriage of justice is that it cannot occur unless and until an applicant succeeds in an appeal against a criminal conviction, until then the applicant remains an alleged miscarriage of justice. However, the court of appeal’s concern is to make sure the conviction is regarded safe not whether the decision of the jury was right or wrong. Wrongful convictions occur from deliberate fabrication of evidence, false confession, mistaken eyewitness, judicial corruption, imperfect forensic science, inadequate defence misrepresentation, issues of race e.t.c. HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENTS Judges in criminal cases developed a practice where they met informally to ascertain whether they had erred in their judgements. This was done by a writ of error, in which the convicted person would obtain a review, if there had been some irregularity with the proceeding, if the appeal was to be on the basis of misdirection by the judge, then the appeal was not available and the other is by writ of certiorari, where the defendant must show that there was a very goof reason for the appeal, and this procedure was at the discretion of the court.
There is also the pretrial motion where the defense attorney can seek an exclusion for irrelevant prosecution information as well as evidence that does not go with the case in order to take it to a trial court. After this is done then there is the criminal trial of the case. Unfortunately, for Mr. James the judge in the part of the trial will make the decision on whether he gets life in prison or the death penalty if it is still available but the jury in the case if he decides to have a jury trial will determine if he is actually innocent or guilty of the charges that are before them. However, if Mr. James attorney feels that he was not guilty he/she can apply for an appeal. He/she will then have to file an appeal to the higher court and give them all of the evidence surrounding the case that they feel was wrong or did not give
Memory is not only affected during an observed event, but there are instances where memory can be influenced after an event as well. There are also instances where memory can be affected retroactively due to personal experiences and biases. Incorrectly recalling the memories of one’s life is usually not detrimental, but the flawed nature of long-term and short-term memory functions becomes a serious matter in regards to criminal eyewitness testimony. In the justice system eyewitness reports are legitimate and can be crucial in the judging process. The justice system was constructed to rely on testimony that is often inaccurate and inconstant in many ways.
The article entitled Mental disorder and criminal law written by Stephen J. Morse brings some very interesting points to the readers attention. Throughout the article, the author reinforces that while people with mental disabilities should receive special treatment in certain situations, there are other points in which they should receive the same treatment as all other criminals. Morse brings into question how someone can be considered as having a mental disability that caused them to commit a crime. There is no clear cut definition, and sometimes the laws are stretched to accommodate people that may not truly fall into the category of having a mental disability. Mental disorders and criminal law helps the reader to have a better understanding of the judicial process when the defendant is believed to have a mental disability.