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Law Enforcement (a Judicial Issue)


Introduction

There are many people who have high ethical standards and who would never intentionally break the law, even when no one could catch them. Unfortunately, there are some people who will continue to break the law until someone does catch them and puts them away. The police, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies are needed to catch those people who do not obey our laws. Their job is a tough one, since the criminals do not want to be caught and the innocent do not always want to help. There are some changes to our laws and to police procedures that could make law enforcement easier and our world safer.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The concept of innocent until proven guilty only works in some ideal world where people actually do not commit crimes. If this concept were actually applied, then no one could even be investigated for a crime, because everyone would be considered innocent. A better concept would be probability of innocence or guilt based on the preponderance of evidence. When an individual’s probability of guilt was considered higher than his or her probability of innocence, then law enforcement should be given more latitude to investigate the individual. For instance, search warrants would be easier for them to get or not even be required.

Statute of Limitations

When a criminal is not caught within a certain time frame, a statute of limitations may have run out on their crime and the criminal can no longer be brought to justice. The reasons for statutes of limitations include the fact that over time memories fade, evidence is lost or never found, and people prefer to get on with their lives without legal intrusions from the past. In addition, it is often a waste of time to continue pursuing a crime when the trail has run cold and other crimes need to be investigated. A problem with this is that way too many criminals end up getting away with their crimes.

Instead of preventing prosecution, I would change the meaning of the statutes of limitations, so that everyone simply has more flexibility in how to proceed after the time has run out. For instance, law enforcement would not be required to investigate, witnesses would not be required to testify, the prosecutor would not be required to prosecute, and criminals might have the option to make proper restitution in order to avoid prosecution. In this way, if new evidence does come to light and people are willing to testify, then the suspect can be prosecuted.

Citizens

As citizens of our country, we are granted certain constitutional rights and in turn we have certain civic duties. Some of the things that we consider civic duties should really be considered obligations of citizenship. There is an implied contract between each citizen and every other citizen that we will obey our laws in exchange for our citizenship rights. Since our rights as citizens are derived from our agreement to obey our country’s laws, law breakers are voiding this contract and should lose an appropriate portion of their rights. For instance, criminals can lose their right to freedom and be sent to prison. Only when someone agrees to honor our citizenship agreement and obey our laws, should we restore his or her rights.

Cooperation

When it comes to criminal matters, we should all be required to talk to law enforcement officials. How can law enforcement officers solve crimes when people do not answer relevant questions? When innocent people refuse to answer relevant questions, it is especially hard for law enforcement to find the guilty party, since they may be forced to waste time checking out the innocent when they could have moved on to other suspects.

If witnesses and suspects are required to answer relevant questions, then their stories can be checked out, and confirmed or refuted. For those people who are embarrassed by something in their answers, they should be able to ask to have those answers sealed to all but those who have an absolute necessity to know. When someone feels that a question is not relevant, procedures should be in place to get a prompt ruling from a judge.

Next Section

Courts and Court Officers - How to improve our Courts so that justice will be better served.

Last Updated:
Sunday, November 26, 2017
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