The
U.S. Constitution and due process has affected the way law enforcement handles
criminal investigations in a few ways. The U.S. Constitution is a document that
protects citizens from operations of the criminal justice system and it affords
protection by making sure that there’s a separation of powers the government
has. Basically, it serves as the basis of legal rights for those who have been
charged with crimes in the United States. In 1791, the Bill of Rights was added
to the constitution. When it was first made, the Bill of Rights only pertained
to the way the federal government works within the justice system. But in 1868,
the Fourteenth Amendment was passed and that expanded due process to the states
too. Because of this amendment, citizens should be basically guaranteed three
classes of rights. The rights it secures are , immunities and privileges of
citizens of the United States. It also guarantees due process of law, and equal
protection under the law. The Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments put limits on
the way government officials that choose to work the American justice system.
There are some pro and cons regarding these limits put on law enforcement
during investigations.

            The Fourth Amendment contains two clauses that are very
important when it comes to criminal investigations. The first clause is the
unreasonable searches and seizures clause. This clause guarantees that “the
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” (Lyman 2017.
P 124).  Essentially, this clause is
supposed to guarantee lawful searches and seizures. A seizure is considered
unreasonable if an officer doesn’t have adequate grounds, doesn’t produce a
warrant when they are supposed to, or if the officer uses excessive force to act
on the seizure. Law enforcement must have probable cause to make a search or
seizure or it is unlawful. The exclusionary rule is a rule that makes any
evidence obtained illegally, inadmissible in court, even if it is relevant to
the case. There are a few exceptions to the exclusionary rule. The good faith
exception allows illegally obtained evidence to be used if the officer believed
they were doing the right thing and that the search and seizure was legal.  The inevitable doctrine allows illegally
obtained evidence to be used in court if the police can prove that they would
have eventually found it legally. The computer error exception allows evidence that
was acquired illegally to be used in court if there was some type of clerical
error that led officers to believe that they were just doing their job.

            The Fifth amendment has the self-incrimination clause in
it. It says that “No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a
witness against himself” (Lyman 2017. p. 125). This clause allows someone to
refuse to tell any type of information that could be used against him or her in
a criminal prosecution. Basically, a person can’t be forced to testify in court
and say anything that could be used against them in cases that may come in the
future. The Sixth Amendment guarantees people the right to confront their
accuser and to have legal representation. The right of confrontation clause is
what “grants people the right to cross-examine the witness in order to
challenge their testimony” (Findlaw. 2017). Another clause included in the
Sixth Amendment is the right to counsel clause. It guarantees those accused of
committing crimes, the right to have counsel for their defense. Basically, the
accused will have access to be represented by a lawyer during their trial.

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Some
argue that these amendments get in the way of law enforcement doing their job,
but I agree with these amendments. The clauses in the Fourth amendment protects
both citizens and law enforcement. It can stop law enforcement from behaving
illegally. It forces law enforcement to obtain evidence in a legal way, since
they’re aware of the consequences if they obtain it illegally. I don’t believe
any law enforcement should have uncontrolled power to search and seizure. The
Fifth amendment guarantees that someone can’t incriminate themselves in any way
that may affect future cases. The Sixth amendment guarantees the right to an
attorney during your trial. This is great because some people may not be able to
afford a lawyer on their own and this gives them access to one. A con for this
is that there are few lawyers assigned to many cases, which leads to case
overload. Lawyers won’t be able to adequately represent some cases. These
amendments are affective in some ways and ineffective in other ways.

 

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