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Criminal Defenses and Criminal Punishments

Free «Criminal Defenses and Criminal Punishments» Essay Sample

Criminal defenses are strategic arguments that attempt to challenge the competency and the extent to which evidence presented by the defense are genuine and/or true, whereas a criminal punishment is the imposition of the defendant to such hardshipas as monetary fines and community service as a result of misconduct. Criminal defenses can be affirmative, whereby the defense tries to appeal against the evidence presented as false. The defense argues that the defendant might have committed the crime without knowledge, or under coercion and duress, whereby the latter states that he/she has been forced to commit the crime. Abandonment and withdrawal can also be used as an argument that a person is not guilty, whereby the defendant admits that he or she was to be an accomplice in a crime, but decided to withdraw. Other common criminal defenses include self-defense, consent, intoxication, and the statute of limitation (, 2014).

When making an arrest, law enforcers may use excessive force. The use of the latter may be in good faith to maintain and restore discipline or prevent malicious activities with the sadistic purpose of subjecting an individual to harm. To find out whether unnecessary force has been used, the court has to endorse a test that is generally applicable to claims concerning the use of excessive force against citizens stipulated by law. All such claims concerning cases when the police or other law enforcers have misused the given right, which may end in deaths at times during an arrest, investigatory stop or other legal action against a free citizen, are analyzed pursuant to the Fourth Amendment and not substantive in case of the standard procedures. Determining if force used to make an arrest is excessive or not under the Fourth Amendment requires balancing the nature and the quality of the infringement of individual’s interests and the ones of the government there.


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To be able to determine the lawfulness of the use of force, the court should identify the specific right infringed during the forceful seizure and then give a verdict by referencing to the specific constitutional provisions that safeguard that right. Besides, claims concerning the use of excessive force in the course of an arrest, seizure, or an investigatory stop are normally characterized as an appeal to the protection of the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, a verdict must be given in accordance with the Fourth Amendment’s clauses.

In addition, the Fourth Amendment allows making inquiries about whether the use of excessive force has been objectively reasonable considering facts and circumstances facing law enforcers, specifically, intension. It is particularly useful in assessing whether the police had to make a split-second move pertinent to a particular situation. Lastly, confusion that might ensue during an arrest, seizure, or an investigative stop must be considered (Wiley, 2011). Thus, before using excessive force, law enforcers should determine if a suspect has a weapon, seek alternatives to solving the problem beforehand, and learn the suspect situation, and in case they decide to use force, it should be reasonable.

There exists a difference between the castle doctrine and “stand your ground” types of criminal defenses. Based on its definition, the “stand your ground” law allows those people who feel they face a reasonable threat of death or bodily harm to themselves or others, or for the purpose of the prevention of a felony to meet the force with equal one rather than retreat and face harm. On the other hand, the castle doctrine states that a person does not need to retreat if his/her home is attacked. However, he or she may have to retreat being outside his or her home, if it is possible, before using any reasonable force. In the case of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, who was charged with the second degree murder, stood a chance of citing Florida’s “stand your ground” laws in his defense.

The Double Jeopardy Clause states that “…nor shall any individual be subject to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” (Cornwell University, 1992). It plays a very important role in ensuring that the defendant is not subjected to trial again after having been acquitted of charges. It also prevents judges, who feel the defendant is guilty continually rejecting verdicts contrary to his or her beliefs until he or she finds a jury that agrees with the ones. In addition, the clause act in favor of juries instead of judges in order to defend an individual from repeated prosecutions (Cornwell University, 1992). The right comes with limitations and costs. Particularly, the jury is made of human beings that are prone to errors. For instance, evidence introduced at a trial that prove guilt might be so powerful that the verdict may be wrong making the defendent not guilty. The opposite is also true, that is the jury may convict an innocent parson if they err in other direction. A convict is entitled to being acquitted from the court, notwithstanding the verdict of the jury.

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Another shortcoming of this clause is when a corrupt jury delivers a not guilty verdict even if it has been proven that the defendant is guilty beyond any reasonable doubts. As this law protects the defendant from being prosecuted twice for the same offense, a criminal walks free. In addition to this shortcoming, a person may be tried twice without violating the Double Jeopardy Law, for instance, when a jury cannot deliver a verdict because of the lack of evidence, or when they are deadlocked. In this case, the judge declares a mistrial. The prosecution is entitled by the court to call the same judges against the defendant for the second time (Blueford v. Arkansas, 2012).

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