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Legal Rights Afforded to the Accused

In 1966, the US Supreme Court made a landmark decision in Miranda v. Arizona; the ruling made the Fifth Amendment self-incrimination rule preeminent to the Sixth Amendment holding of Escobedo. The prescriptive holding of Miranda v. Arizona comes down to the following: whether exculpatory or inculpatory, the arrested person’s statements during custodial interrogation cannot be used by the prosecution unless there has been a procedural safeguard in place against self-incrimination (“Confessions: Police interrogation, due process, and self-incrimination, n.d.). In other words, individuals under arrest must explain their rights before they make any statements. Therefore, once John Doe started incriminating himself, the police officers must have told him that he has the right to remain silent and that anything he says from now on can be used against him by the court. Most likely, Doe cannot afford an attorney, so he can be appointed one, as well as stop, talking until the attorney joins them.

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Following John’s arrest and interview at the police station, the man will be booked. Booking refers to the process of gathering basic information about the arrested person, such as their birthdate and address, taking their fingerprints, and photographing them (“Arrests and arrest warrants”, n.d.). In some cases, the booking may include taking part in a line-up or providing a handwriting sample. If John Doe is detained for an unreasonable period without booking, his attorney has the right to obtain a writ of habeas corpus. It is an order that would oblige the police to bring him before the court and decide whether he is held in custody for legitimate reasons. After booking, the case of John Doe will be forwarded to the appropriate prosecutor’s office where charges, if any, are determined.

A preliminary hearing is essentially a mini-trial during which the prosecutor must prove that there is enough evidence indicating that the defendant should be charged. Preliminary hearings are not mandatory, and the defendant has the right to waive them. If agreed upon a preliminary hearing, must be held within 14 days if the defendant is held in custody. Defendants who are out on bail must appear within 21 days, though this does not apply to John Doe, who has no one to bail him (United States Department of Justice, n.d.). The prosecution calls witnesses and examines the evidence, and if it believes that the defendant has likely committed the crime, a trial is scheduled.

In contrast, the grand jury proceeding is conducted by a group of citizens who are empowered by law to determine whether there is “prima facie evidence” that the defendant is guilty. Like preliminary hearings, grand jury proceedings are not always necessary nor frequently used as they are reserved for serious crimes. Following a preliminary hearing or a grand jury, the proceeding is an arraignment at which point John Doe will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty (Siegel & Worall, 2018). “Nolo contendere” (“no contest”) is another option but may only be accepted by the judge if the defendant pleads voluntarily.

When setting a bond for John Doe, the judge will have to consider the seriousness of the crime. In addition, the bond will depend on the defendant’s past criminal history, which, in the case of John Doe, speaks in favor of a smaller amount (Siegel & Worall, 2018). Other factors to take into account include the employment status of the defendant and their closeness to the family and the community. Since John Doe cannot afford to bail himself out, he may need to find a bondsman who will guarantee his appearance before the court while he is out on bail.

References

Arrest and arrest warrants. (n.d.). Justia US Law. Web.

Confessions: Police interrogation, due process, and self incrimination. (n.d.) Justia US Law. Web.

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Siegel, L. J., & Worrall, J. L. (2018). Essentials of criminal justice. Cengage Learning.

United States Department of Justice. (n.d.). Preliminary hearing. Web.

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