Probable Cause, Due Process and Search Warrants


Another exception to the double jeopardy provision is actually no exception. It will be easy for an individual, including O.J. Simpson, to be tried in criminal court for a crime and then be sued in civil court for damages caused by the same criminal action. The laws and rules that apply to both different legal systems are enough different that, for the aims of the Fifth Amendment, they can be considered distinctive. Also, an individual can also be tried for different offenses perpetrated in the span of a single activity or group of activities. For instance, when Timothy McVeigh was tried in Federal Court for bombing the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, he were charged with killing federal government workers and with ruining federal government property. The possibility remains that McVeigh could be tried in Oklahoma state court for the murders of another individuals killed in the bombing. Since they’re different offenses (as defined in the law), another trial wouldn’t bring about “double jeopardy.”

No Excessive, Cruel or Unusual Fines or Punishments

The Eighth Amendment prohibits the government from inflicting excessive bail, fines or “cruel and unusual” punishments. Given the age during which the Eighth Amendment was drafted and ratified, among its clear objectives was to forbid torture. Beneath the restrictions enforced by the Constitution, punishments for offenses can include fines or incarceration, although not excessively painful or physically dangerous punishments like whips or branding, both common practices in the 1700s. The Court has also interpreted the Eighth Amendment to forbid immurement in unsanitary or inhumane conditions. On the other hand, the Court continues to be unwilling to define such states overly generally. In Rhodes v. Chapman (1981), the Court overruled a lower court’s conclusion that declared “double celling,” the home of two prisoners in one little cell, was unconstitutional:

The double celling made mandatory by the unanticipated increase in prison population failed to lead to privations of vital food, medical care, or sterilization. Nor did it raise violence among prisoners or create other states intolerable for penitentiary confinement. Although occupation and educational opportunities declined marginally because of this of double celling, small work hours and postponement before receiving instruction tend not to inflict pain, not as unnecessary and wanton pain; losses of the type just aren’t punishments. We will have to wrench the Eighth Amendment from its language and history to maintain that postponement of those desired assistance to rehabilitation offends the Constitution.
Among the main standards the Court has used in deciding whether a punishment or fine offends the Eighth Amendment is a test of proportionality. The Court has ruled that, under particular conditions, the death penalty might be a “cruel and unusual” punishment, however simply where it’s not proportionate to the offense perpetrated.

Search Warrants

The Fourth Amendment prohibits the investigation or seizure of someone ‘s private property with no warrant. In practice, this ensures that a police officer or alternative government agent cannot enter your house in order to search it and confiscate evidence unless she or he has got the permission of a judge to do that. When a law enforcement official is investigating a crime, she or he must gather enough evidence to convince a judge the breach of a defendant’s privacy and property is “justified.” The standard for showing the significance of a warrant is the fact that the authorities must demonstrate that it’s “probable cause.” Of this standard, the Supreme Court noted:

In coping with probable cause, . . . as the very name suggests, we deal with probabilities. All these will not be technical; they would be the factual as well as practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act. . . . Probable cause exists where “the facts and circumstances within [the arresting officers’] knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information [are] sufficient in themselves to justify a man of reasonable caution in the belief that” an offense has been or will be committed (see Draper v. United States (1959)).

Probable Cause: A Case Study

Police officers are faced with tough choices daily. Is a warrant needed seriously to produce an arrest or to confiscate evidence or is there “probable cause” to go with no warrant? Consider the instance of narcotics agent who often gets info from a trusted informant. The information the informant has given the representative before has resulted in a number of arrests and convictions. One day, the informant tells the representative in regards to a guy, whom the representative hasn’t met, that has gone to a different city to get a 20 kilograms of crack. On the basis of the suggestion, the representative goes to the airport, recognizes the guy from the informants description, detains him and grabs the opportunity.

Did the representative have probable cause to detain and seek the guy with no warrant? Could the evidence be disclosed in the guy’s trial? In the same case, the Supreme Court ruled the arrest was proper as well as the evidence admissible.

Vehicles present another exception to the search warrant requirement. Simply because they are easily able to be moved, hidden as well as destroyed, signs could be forever lost if a police officer, again acting under “probable cause,” wasn’t in a position to seek a vehicle in the time it’s stopped. So long as the investigation is manufactured in connection by having an otherwise lawful traffic stop, the Court has permitted probable cause investigations of automobiles, trucks along with other vehicles.

Another case where signs may be seized with no warrant is when a police officer is in “hot pursuit” of a defendant. In case the defendant enters her or his house, policeman is free to follow them in, make an arrest and grab whatever evidence is found there. Eventually, consistent using its recent emphasis on the requirement to confirm order and control offense, the Court has ruled that evidence obtained in “good faith,” although in breach of the Fourth Amendment, may, under specific conditions, still be admissible in a court of law.

The “Due Process of Law”

The Constitution as well as the Bill or Rights ensure several special rights of the accused, a lot of that have been discussed above. As well as these narrowly defined rights, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments offer the comprehensive guarantee that no one shall be deprived of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

The “due process” guarantee contains the rights set out in the Constitution in addition to others not specifically mentioned. Actually, some observers have referred to the due process clauses as the “wild card” of the Constitution due to the chance they provide for the judiciary to interpret individual rights expansively. In the most straightforward terms, but, the due process guarantees of the Constitution ensure that people accused of offenses is likely to be given a fair trial. Including the guarantee of a jury trial, the right against self incrimination and others already discussed. Other special due process guarantees range from the right of the accused to face their accusers and also to compel advantageous witnesses to testify in their own behalf (Sixth Amendment).

Maybe the most important growth the Supreme Court has made to the due process rights of the accused came in its landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright. Gideon have been charged with breaking and entering and, appearing before a Florida judge, requested a court appointed attorney because he failed to possess the funds to engage one himself. Under Florida law at that time, public defenders could just be provided for capital offense cases, cases where the accused be sentenced to death if found guilty.

Gideon defended himself as best he could but was convicted yet. In a subsequent appeal of his conviction, the Supreme Court ruled that Gideon’s due process rights was broken when he wasn’t given his request for legal counsel. Remarking on its ruling, the Court noted:

That government hires lawyers to prosecute and defendants that have the money hire lawyers to defend are the strongest indicators of the widespread belief that lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries. The right of one charged with crime to counsel might not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in a few states, but it’s in ours. From your very start, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to ensure fair trials before impartial tribunals where every defendant stands equal ahead of regulations. This commendable ideal is unable to be realized in the event the poor man charged with crime must confront his accusers with no lawyer to help him.

On the idea of the opinion, all individuals accused of felonies has to be supplied court appointed attorneys if they can’t actually afford to hire them on their very own. This opinion is emblematic of a system which expands an important menu of rights to individuals accused of offenses in the United States of America. Through these rights, the individuals of the country are supplied substantial protections from unfair and unjust accusations and punishments.