Bill of Rights defines the protections afforded individual citizens under the Constitution against excessive government intrusions into private lives and arbitrary prosecutions. These rights are contained in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Since these Amendments were first adopted by the ratifying states the courts have interpreted the intent of each and created rules that attempt to keep the government from running roughshod over these rights. In 1944, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures were generated by the Supreme Court and Congress turned them into law (LII, 2010).
One of the most important rights is to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment (LII, 2010). A warrant issued by a magistrate or judge is typically required before a police officer can enter a private citizen's residence or other property and conduct a search. In addition, the focus of the search has to be limited to specific items and the search must be based on probable cause. To establish probable cause the police officer must present the reasoning behind the request under oath. To enforce the Fourth Amendment privacy protections, the court can prevent evidence obtained without a warrant from being presented during trial. This practice is called the "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" Doctrine or the Exclusionary Rule (Bilz, 2012).
The Fifth Amendment requires law enforcement officers to inform anyone arrested for a criminal offense of their right to remain silent...
The Sixth Amendment, as interpreted by the courts, confers to criminal defendants the right to counsel whether they can afford it or not. These rights have collectively been called substantive due process. When criminal defendants are facing trial in state courts, which is the most common scenario, the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees substantive due process rights in those courts as well. If these rights are violated, the courts can provide a remedy to the accused by declaring any statements made in violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments inadmissible.
The Amendments discussed above were created by colonial business leaders who were fed up with the maltreatment they were experiencing under British rule (ACLU, 2002). British troops could arbitrarily enter, search, and take whatever they needed and the colonist could do little to prevent this from occurring. Arbitrary arrests and prosecutions also took place. From the perspective of colonists, these intrusions and abuses of power were just a few of the many committed by an indifferent English ruling class.
When it came time to create a constitution that the states could agree upon, a major sticking point was the lack of a bill of rights to protect individual citizens from the power of the government (ACLU, 2002). The Constitution before the Bill of Rights was added outlined what the government had a right and responsibility to do, but there was little mention of ways to limit government power. The Revolutionary War was triggered by government overreach so several of the new states wanted a way to prevent the same abuses from occurring in their new nation.…
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