Criminal Justice System: Ethics in Criminal Procedure Essay

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Criminal Justice System: Ethics in Criminal Procedure

Ethics refers to the principles of morality that govern an individual's behavior. Ethics, therefore, provides the basis through which an individual defines, and distinguishes between the good and the bad. This implies that it is ethics that provides the framework for the duties and responsibilities an individual owes to himself, and to the community. Today, ethics define how corporations, professionals, and individuals relate with one another. Within the criminal justice system, ethics refers to the standards that govern the conduct of persons working within the criminal justice system (Kleinig, 2008). It defines the professionalism of prison guards, judges, attorneys, prosecutors, and police officers (Kleinig, 2008).

The Process of the Criminal Justice System

There are ten stages involved in the criminal justice system; initial contact, investigation, arrest, custody, indictment, detention/bail, plea bargaining, adjudication, disposition, and post convict remedies (the Legal Dictionary, 2014). Initial contact involves observation and awareness; an officer is made aware of a criminal activity (the Legal Dictionary, 2014). Investigation involves acquiring facts that are relevant to the case, with the aim of identifying the real offender (the Legal Dictionary, 2014). Arrest marks the beginning of custody; a legal arrest is made when the evidence at hand is sufficient. Custody follows arrest, and involves fingerprinting, photographing and interrogation (the Legal Dictionary, 2014). Indictment is the presentation before a jury, which then determines whether or not to grant bail to the suspect (the Legal Dictionary, 2014). Plea-bargaining takes the form of a meeting between the prosecutor and the suspect aimed at reaching out-of-court settlements (the Legal Dictionary, 2014). An unsuccessful plea-bargain results in adjudication, in which the guilt or innocence of the suspect is determined. Disposition is the sentencing of a suspect who has been found guilty - it can be challenged through post conviction remedies such as appeals (the Legal Dictionary, 2014). Ethics within the criminal justice system is aimed at guiding the conduct of officers in all the stages of this process to ensure justice is served, and all suspects are treated equally.

How Ethics in Real Life Differs from Ethics in Law

The law influences the conduct of professionals, like any other individual. However, the courts are not often used in the settlement of real life ethical issues (Kleinig, 2008). In fact, "the ethics of a particular act is many times determined independent of the legality of the conduct" (the Legal Dictionary, 2014). It is possible, therefore, for the law to permit an action that does not meet ethical standards. The law, for instance, permits actions such as disloyalty towards relatives, which under ethical valuation would be considered unethical (the Legal dictionary, 2014).

This deviation between real life and law ethics gives rise to the ethical…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Civil Rights. (2013). Justice on Trial. The Leadership Conference. Retrieved from http://www.civilrights.org/publications/justice-on-trial/

Kleinig, J. (2008). Ethics and Criminal Justice: An Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press.

The Legal Dictionary. (2014). Ethics, Legal. The Legal Dictionary. Retrieved from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Ethics,+Legal

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