Criminal Processing Term Paper

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Criminal Processing

Officer Jim Rawlins, a fourteen-year veteran of the Anytown Police Department spent the morning working with Sadie. He hid a series of balls around his backyard, giving the golden retriever praise and pets every time she found one of the balls and brought it to him. Then he clipped on her leash and her special K-9 officer vest and loaded her into the squad car. Today Jim was taking Sadie to Anytown High School, where she would sniff out drugs in student lockers. One high school in the district was randomly selected each month for a drug search (De La Garza). Jim took his job seriously because drugs were a growing problem at Anytown High School, and one of the students had overdosed the week before. The girl was going to live, but her life would never be the same. If he could keep that from happening to just one kid, Jim considered himself successful.

Martin Rudy sat in his geometry class, thinking about his plans for after school. He was going to his friend Tim's house. They were going to work on a school project. Then they'd light up the joint in his locker, watch a movie, and relax a little bit. That's when Martin saw the dog walk by the classroom. He started a bit, and then gave her a second glance. He realized she was a drug dog with a police officer. His classroom was by the front of the school, so they had probably just entered. If he could get his teacher to let him go, he would have time to get to his locker and flush the stuff before the dog could get to his locker. He was a good student, so he had no problem convincing Mrs. Kravitz that he had to go to the bathroom. It seemed to take forever for her to give him a hall pass, but finally he was free of the classroom. He walked calmly away from the classroom, and then ran up the stairs towards his locker. He was so nervous that he flubbed the combination the first time, but finally got his locker open. He found his stash, and then headed towards the bathroom. Just then he heard the whining of a dog. He saw a different officer and a different dog coming around the corner. He thought about running, but he had a golden retriever at home. He knew he could not make it to the bathroom before the dog and there was no place in the hall to hide his stash. Martin agreed to a search and started to cry a little when Officer Rawlins and Sadie found the drugs on him. Officer Rawlins informed Martin that he was being placed under arrest and read him his Miranda rights, before turning him around to place the handcuffs on him. Martin asked the officer if they could skip the handcuffs. However, drug raids were notoriously dangerous, and even though Jim felt for Martin, he could not risk the safety of the other students by leaving Martin free. Martin saw the curious glances and heard the beginning of whispers as he was marched down the hall and to the principal's office. Dr. Hooper, the school principal, called his parents and instructed them to meet Martin at the Anytown Jail, where he was being taken for processing.

Martin thought that nothing could be more humiliating than being marched out of his high school in handcuffs. However, that was before he was processed at the jail. The first thing they did was have him surrender his possessions ("Inmate Handbook," 1). He handed over his wallet, his keys, and was part of a pat-down search. When the intake officer was satisfied that Martin did not have any weapons or other contraband on his person, Martin was led to a holding cell. Because Anytown was not a large town, they did not have a special unit in the jail designated for juvenile offenders. However, they moved some of the other detainees in order to place Martin in a cell by himself, rather than expose him to the adult detainees.

It seemed to Martin that he was in the cell forever, but he was actually only waiting about an hour. His parents arrived at the jail with the family attorney, Mary Winters. Upon hearing that Martin had been arrested, Mary called up the jail and instructed them to wait until she arrived with Martin's parents before questioning Martin. Although Martin had not indicated that he was seeking the help of an attorney, Officer Rawlins decided to wait until the attorney appeared before questioning Martin. Whether or not it is permissible to question a juvenile offender without the presence of a parent or guardian was a murky legal issue. Similarly murky was the question of whether a juvenile was old enough to understand their Miranda rights and request an attorney. Therefore, it was the policy of the Anytown Police Department not to question juvenile offenders without the presence of a parent or attorney unless there was a reason to believe that immediate questioning would prevent imminent harm. Because those circumstances did not apply to Martin, Officer Rawlins granted Ms. Winter's request to delay questioning until she could arrive with Martin's parents.

Ms. Winters refused to allow Martin to answer any of the officer's questions, until she could confer with him. Therefore, the interview process was relatively short. Because Anytown was a small town, Martin was able to appear before a juvenile court judge to be arraigned that afternoon. Although Martin did not have the constitutional right to be released pending hearing, the juvenile court judge allowed his parents to post a modest bail-bond so that he could return home until his hearing date. At the hearing Liz Sanders, a social worker with the juvenile court was assigned Martin's case. She would look through Martin's record and confer with the prosecutor as to her recommendation regarding Martin's sentencing and post-sentence treatment.

Martin and his parents rode home in a stormy silence. As a result of the drugs being found in his locker, Martin was suspended from school and would be required to attend an alternative school. However, intake for the alternative school was on Tuesdays, which meant that Martin would be out of school for almost a week. However, those absences would be considered unexcused and Martin would receive a zero for any missed assignments. Prior to being caught with the drugs, he had maintained a 3.8 GPA, but he knew it would fall dramatically because of his mistake. He had a meeting at his attorney's office in two days; other than that, he had nothing to do but think about what kind of mistake he had made.

While Martin and his family were meeting with the defense attorney, Liz Sanders was looking through Martin's history. He had never had any problems with the law before and appeared to be a model student. She decided to advise David Smith, the prosecuting attorney, to offer a plea bargain to Martin. That afternoon, Liz recommended probation with frequent drug tests combined with a program of community service.

Meanwhile, Martin's attorney Mary was discussing with Martin the possibility of giving testimony against his supplier. However, Martin refused to do so, angering his parents. He had obtained the drugs from his girlfriend's older sister and did not want to get her in trouble. Martin's parents asked about the possibility of a not-guilty plea, because of their concerns about Martin's future. However, Mary outlined the evidence against them, which included drugs being found on Martin's body, and advised them that he should plead guilty and seek a plea bargain. Martin and his parents agreed with Mary's approach and asked her to see what kind of deal he could get.

Mary called up David, Anytown's only juvenile court prosecutor. They had been opponents in the courtroom a few times before, but maintained a friendly relationship. They both had free time later in the week and decided to meet for lunch to discuss Martin's predicament. At lunch, David told Mary what he was prepared to offer. Mary balked at the hours of community service and the length of the proposed probation, but told David that she would take the offer to Martin and his parents. Although she had indicated resistance to David, she was secretly pleased with how favorable the offer was and, at her next meeting with Martin and his family, she recommended that he accept the plea. They agreed and she called David to inform him of the decision.

Approximately one month after his arrest, Martin appeared in front of the judge to enter his guilty plea. Mary had informed him that the prosecutor's recommendation was not binding on the judge and Martin worried that he would end up doing time for the drug possession. However, although recommendations are non-binding, most courts do follow them (Mears). Judge Harvey Wallace had been practicing in the juvenile court system…[continue]

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