Law free essay: Self-Incrimination
Within the broad constitutional protection of rights related to due process, the United States Constitution gives directions on criminal proceedings with regard to handling witnesses and evidence. Two important provisions of the Constitution with these functions perhaps include the Fourth and Fifth Amendment, which formulate grounds of individual rights with court proceedings. The Fourth Amendment protects individual rights of appropriate legal proceedings famously referred to as due process. The focus of this discussion is the Fifth Amendment that contains clauses indicating how due process with criminal evidence and witness positions should progress in courts. Two main principles of the Fifth Amendment therefore include protection of rights of persons undergoing criminal proceedings in the courts, to further support the premise of innocent until proven guilty. Secondly, the principle of prevention of prosecution conduct likely to compel defendants to give their own incriminating evidence takes shape in the Fifth Amendment.
Judges cannot compel individuals before court to give information that would directly affect negatively in their pursuit of exoneration in court proceedings. Other persons with an interest in the case cannot compel the defendant to give evidence against themselves within the precincts of the court (GetLegal, 2012). The Fifth Amendment therefore controls any influence that could alter the defendant’s opportunity to present their case before court with confidence that they will not face undue pressure to incriminate themselves, thereby destroying their enjoyment of right to be innocent until proven guilty. Another emergent theme in the Fifth Amendment is the active separation of powers in criminal proceedings, where the executive faces barring environment against use of force on witnesses’ rights. The interpretation of the Fifth Amendment has however faced various contestations with regard to the parties and conditions against which the Amendment gains enforcement authentication.
Miranda v. Arizona
In Miranda v. Arizona, a case that took place in 1966 the United States Supreme Court defined the admissibility of evidence obtained irregularly from the defendant, particularly within the conditions of absence of an attorney to guide the defendant during questioning. According to the court’s argument, obtaining exculpatory and inculpatory statement in gathering prosecutorial evidence exposes the individual to conditions that may violate their own constitutional rights of informed consent. The right against reliance of self-incrimination statements delivered during compulsion as defined by the court indicate that the individual giving such information must have sufficient knowledge of the circumstances under which such information is likely to affect their case. In case the prosecution continues to avail such evidence in court, it must demonstrate before the judges that the individual giving these statements was aware of their rights and willingly gave the information for reliance before the court (Baker, 1983).
Miranda warning obtained its coining from the case, where the police or questioning individuals are required to inform the interrogated individual before any questioning, that whatever they shall say will help build a case against them in court. Miranda warning therefore constitutes three components namely, right to an attorney, right to remain silent and warning that every word said could be relied against the individual before the court. In the practical interpretation of these words, incriminating evidence in criminal proceedings as obtained from the defendant or witness must always pass the standards of informed consent, which may involve other civil rights such as right to have representation through an attorney.
In the Miranda v. Arizona case, Ernesto Miranda incarceration on grounds of rape and kidnap of young woman in 1963 led to lengthy questioning upon which the interrogation documentation on tape ended on Miranda signing his confession made during the interrogation. The signed acceptance was clear that Miranda accepted to have given the information without coercion and that no threats had been issued to that end. According to details of the progress of the interrogations, it emerged that Miranda did not have access an attorney during questioning and the police did not inform him that he had the right to keep quiet and refuse to respond to questions. Subsequent reliance on the evidence by the court to convict him to 20 to 30 years in prison under the missing links of complete package of civil rights provoked Miranda’s attorney who appealed at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court observed that Miranda did not ask for an attorney and earlier decision was upheld in 1967 (Cohen 2012).
Although the origin of the tough questions around the implementation setting for the Self-Incrimination Clause manifests in the Miranda v. Arizona, that took place in Arizona, various other cases involving the determination of the matter spread across the country. In order to explain the technical question of where the incriminating evidence obtained through coercion goes on, details of the custodial conditions form an important criterion for such determination. In view of the importance of the case in assisting the courts to highlight the contestable variables on the invocation of the involved rights, reliance on case law has proved to be a progressive approach. The statements made by an individual with regard to the material implications that they could have on the exoneration case built compel the prosecution officials to adhere to the procedures that uphold constitutional provisions.
The location of questioning proceedings determines the “where” of a case where violations have taken place. In terms of where amounts to custody for consideration in determining if the questioning violated the rights of the individual, the court asks questions such as the freedom of movement that the person had with respect to how free it was to leave the place. In case the person could not have leave at will, it imply that the police held the person in custody, upon which questions were raised to provide statements that have an implicating potential to the person. Once the person obtains the Miranda warnings, they can waive the implications and continue with the questioning but they also have a right to call upon the authorities to provide them with the rights enshrined in the provision including access to a lawyer (Soltero, 2006). Silence implies that the person does not want to compromise their rights for a fair hearing upon which all questioning must be dropped. The prosecution must provide evidence in court in case of accusations of violations of these rights to counter the inadmissibility calls from the defendant.
The conditions of invocation of the privileges under the self-incrimination clause explain when the criminal proceedings begin, to determine what amounts to violations. In the determination of when a case begins, Chavez v. Martinez forms a classical case in which the matter was deliberated. Martinez was involved in a series of confrontations with the police at the end of which he was shot causing blindness and paralysis. During treatment, police officers by the name Chavez interrogated him and as it emerged, he was not involved in the scuffle. Apparently, the questioning did not follow the Miranda version of informing the individual of their rights, although his confessions that would have had incriminating impact if otherwise given were not used in any proceedings.
Martinez claimed to have snatched a gun from a police officer and that he pointed the gun at the officer, which when appropriately obtained would have serious implications on any proceedings against him. Martinez sued Chavez on grounds of violations of his rights under Fifth Amendment with regard to compulsion to give implicating evidence. Different opinions written by the bench judges undertook to answer when a criminal case envisioned under the Self-Incrimination Clause begins, in order to define the actual violations (Stuart, 2004). Criminal case commencement at the initial trial appearance as well as during pretrial preparations did not clearly define the when question as expected. Preliminary hearings and evidence adduced in those procedures provided numerous contestations as witnessed in Chavez’s case. However, it was found out that police questioning procedures could not constitute a case where violations of self-incrimination can manifest. The court therefore paved the way for police investigations where serious violations of the Fifth Amendment cannot be flouted (Cohen, 2012).
In terms of the definition of a case and the interrogation within that context, the definition of the individual who can invoke the privileges of the Self-Incrimination Clause gets clearer. In terms of the case, it implies that the persons appearing before judicial procedures qualify for consideration for such rights. The person in question must be in police custody and the interrogations made violate the provisions of Miranda standards. An arrest and improper questioning conditions as defined in various Miranda warning requirements, including rights to access an attorney, right to remain silent and significance of words spoken during questioning in future trial. According to the Chavez v. Martinez case, the absence of these two conditions raises the ground for invalidity of probable invocation of the privileges. As described above in the Miranda v. Arizona, the questioning conditions constituted to serious violations since Miranda agreed to have given the consent.
The principle concept captured in Miranda v. Arizona is the requirement that the judiciary must observe the balance between federal judges’ powers of finding persons guilty and civil rights. In the spirit of the principle, it clearly appears that the conduct of judicial officials in delivery of justice may compromise certain constitutionally enshrined provisions. Some of these provisions include civil rights such as due process, presumption of innocence until proven otherwise as well as informed consent that cuts across various ethical procedures. Federal judiciary’s power to hear and determine cases falls on a critical function that must not violate certain rights at the expense of others and the adjudication setting based on fairness must always prevail. A person in need of invoking the privileges must demonstrate the need to protect civil rights provided for in the Constitution and demonstrate that the interrogations conducted on them amounted to serious violations (Cohen, 2012).
Other Case Law Applications
Some of the other cases involving the question of self-incrimination have facilitated in the definition of the complex and technical questions of what, where, who and why an individual would qualify to invoke the involved privileges. Examples of cases that demonstrate the onus of the judicial officials to stick with laid down procedures include United States v. Hubbell, Counselman v Hitchcock and Higazy v. Templeton among many more (US Court of Appeals, 2005). The main observation and wisdom of the clause was to prevent harassment against persons seeking justice, leading to giving information that creates harm on their own defense. The judge and the prosecutors cannot compel witnesses to give information against their wish and in absence of information necessary to build their case. As demonstrated in the cases, different perspectives of the conditions of violations and emerge from the definitions of issues involved in the clause. Whether questioning during trial or questioning during trial determine the court’s matter to determine (Thomas, 2000).
Self-Incrimination Clause in the Fifth Amendment must define what constitutes a case of violation of defendant’s rights to be presumed innocent until otherwise proven. Various clarity contestations on the actual violations within the definition of prosecution powers against an individual’s civil rights have emerged in the past. What a criminal case definition of the clause captures was deliberated in Chavez v. Martinez, describing the four elements used in determination of the underlying standoff between executive rights and civil rights. These include parties who can invoke provided privilege, definition of what constitutes criminal cases, what amounts for force of compulsion and witness definition.
Counselman v Hitchcock demonstrates that the Self-Incrimination Clause includes subpoenaed individuals could enjoy the provisions of the Clause to defeat such proceedings. In terms of earlier cases of courts’ application of the Clause, the narrow scope appeared to expand to the grand jury proceedings against which subpoena questioning functionality take place. It further became clear that the admissibility of the provisions could stretch to witness questioning. Provisions of dropping of active charges from confessions on grounds of immunity can however facilitate suspension of such evidence. Equally, the position of a witness was defined in the case, by indicating that it referred to persons giving evidence in court’s proceedings.
Baker, L. (1983). Miranda: Crime, law, and politics. New York: Atheneum
Cohen, T. A. (2012). “Self-Incrimination and Separation of Power.” Georgetown Law Journal, 100:895-928
GetLegal. (2012). “Fundamental Rights of the Accused: 5th Amendment.” Retrieved from http://public.getlegal.com/legal-info-center/fundamental-rights/5th-amendment
Soltero, C. R. (2006). Latinos and American law: Landmark Supreme Court cases. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
Stuart, G. L. (2004). Miranda: The story of America’s right to remain silent. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press.
Thomas, J. (2000). “United States v. Hubbell (99-166) 530 US. 27 (2000)” Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-166.ZC.html
US Court of Appeals, (2005). “Abdallah Higazy v. FBI Agent Michael Templeton.” Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/415175/Unredacted-2nd-Circuit-Court-of-Appeals-Higazy-opinion
The cheap essay writing service company is here at scholarlywriters.com with free essays like Law free essay: Self-Incrimination