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The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Exclusionary Rule

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects American citizens against illegal evidence collections methods that are against their rights. The exclusionary rule has become a common doctrine that discourages the criminal justice system and the government from relying on information gathered in an acceptable manner. Many police officers and law enforcers consider this provision to avoid obtaining evidence in an ineffective manner. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule that different professionals and law enforcers should be aware of (Mondell, 2017). First, police and court officers are required to present tangible evidence even if it was acquired in a manner that violates the identified Fourth Amendment. Second, the good faith exception has become common in different courts since they seek to support or protect the liberties of the targeted individuals. This process will occur when enforcers and police officers use a search warrant to obtain information that is valid or admissible in court.

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Third, attenuation doctrine presents an exception whereby the evidence is remotely connected to the manner in which the intended information was gathered or collected. Fourth, the independent source is a doctrine that allows courts and officers to exempt the exclusionary rule. This scenario will be possible when the evidence in question was acquired independently by a professional or individual through acceptable legal processes and activities (Mondell, 2017). Fifth, the inevitable discovery rule is another unique exception to this doctrine. This provision permits the use of information or evidence that could have been obtained against the Fourth Amendment. However, this permission will be possible if the court realizes that the evidence could still be obtained or acquired if the relevant legal procedures were taken into consideration.

Civil Lawsuits

According to the American Constitution, civil lawsuits could be brought against individual, federal, and state offices. Most of these cases usually revolve around companies or private citizens suing each other in the country. The first group of cases involving individual citizens includes tort and family lawsuits. A tort law will usually entail a contract or financial dispute arising from two or more individuals. The second lawsuit is quite different since it touches issues to do with immediate or close members of the family (Buckwalter-Poza, 2016). A good example is that of divorce between spouses. Civil cases could also be brought forth against state offices. The first example is that of tort case whereby a citizen could launch a complaint against a state office or department. This would occur after the occurrence of injury or damage to personal properly in state-owned premises or working environments. This would differ from a property lawsuit that arises between a state and members of the public. A good example could be that of a disputed piece of land.

Citizens could file civil lawsuits against the federal office in the United States. The first type would be a tort claim that would be filed in the United States District Court. A good example would be when a person is injured or falls from a facility, train, or vehicle managed by the federal government (Buckwalter-Poza, 2016). The second type would be a civil property lawsuit that might arise when an individual decides to sue the federal government if there is a tussle over a specific item or asset. A proper understanding of these differences would make it possible for more people to be aware of civil litigations and how to pursue them.

Guilty Plea

Defendants who enter a guilty plea in the United States would waive several Constitutional rights. The first one is that they no longer have the liberty to have a jury trial. This means that they accept the charges pronounced against them and should be ready to be part of the entire judicial process (Helm, 2019). The second right such a defendant will waive automatically is the one against self-incrimination and it means that legal professionals could not enforce actions that would compel the person to accept a charge or accusation of a crime. The third right that an individual would waive for taking the guilty plea is the power to confront the available witnesses. This means that the defendant will not be allowed to be ask witnesses questions or cross-examine them.

However, the three major controlling U.S. Supreme Court cases require judges to provide protections when defendants plead guilty. The first one is that such individuals should be placed under police protection or allowed bail depending on their safety and wellbeing. This form of protection is essential since it addresses some of the challenges that might emerge after the guilty plea. The second protection is for such judges to ensure that the sentencing process is fair and does not violate the rights of the defendant (Helm, 2019). The third issue that such professionals need to ensure that the individuals are allowed to be involved in the plea bargaining process without coercion. They need to do in a voluntary manner and be informed about the consequences and possible outcomes associated with such a decision. These issues are worth considering to improve the integrity of the intended criminal or trial process.

Sentencing Guidelines

The United States has supported various guidelines known as mandatory minimum sentencing laws. These are statutes designed in such a way that judges sentence offenders to specific short terms in prison for various criminal activities. The first type includes guidelines implemented to deal with the problem of drug abuse, possession, and trade. These measures are considered to ensure that the prison system does not remain overwhelmed (Pryor et al., 2018). However, conspiracies are usually applied under such policies to identify all involved wrongdoers and sentence them accordingly. The first aim of the drug-related minimum sentencing is to relieve the country’s criminal justice system. The second one is to ensure that individuals are punished in accordance with their acts or possessions, and support the ideas of reforming more American citizens and allowing them to pursue their economic aims.

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The second type is that focusing on general or petty crime. The identified individuals will be required to serve a minimum prison term before being reintegrated back into their respective societies. This sentencing is different from that associated with drugs since the nature and possible impacts of the offense to make the relevant legal decisions. Those who support this kind of sentencing believe that it has both gains and challenges that can affect the goals of criminal justice systems (Pryor et al., 2018). The first key aim associated with this type include elimination discretions whenever choosing various options to punish offenders. The second objective is to achieve deterrence at a higher rate. The final one is to create room for serious offenses that could not benefit from mandatory minimum sentences, such as manslaughter, robbery with violence, and murder.

USA Patriot Act

The USA Patriot Act is one of the major laws intended to support the government’s efforts to deal with the challenge of terrorism at both the international and local level. According to this Act, law enforcement agencies have additional powers and resources that could make it easier for them to identify specific activities that could result in terrorism. The financial industry is also involved and encouraged to report suspicious customer behaviors that could be associated with money laundering or promoting terrorism (Schulhofer, 2016). These key provisions have been critical in supporting different organizations, systems, and agencies to pursue their goals diligently. However, some questions have emerged since this Act undermines the validity of the Constitution as the primary document that is supposed to safeguard the rights and privacy of all American citizens.

With the adoption of the outlined counterintelligence and counterterrorism provisions, it is evident that the government might have ignored the importance of balancing its power and the privacy of Americans. This happens to be the case since financial organizations are required to share confidential information with the government as a way of identifying behaviors that could expose the country to increased cases of terrorism (Schulhofer, 2016). These issues and gaps explain why policymakers should consider the validity of all the amendments to the Constitution and engage in activities and actions that have the potential to protect the country’s critical infrastructure systems without the need to violate or ignore the rights of the people (Schulhofer, 2016). These measures will ensure that more citizens are involved and willing to share additional information that can support different agencies and departments to win the fight against terrorism.

References

Buckwalter-Poza, R. (2016). Making justice equal. Center for American Progress. Web.

Helm, R. K. (2019). Constrained waiver of trial rights? Incentives to plead guilty and the right to a fair trial. Journal of Law and Society, 26(3), 423-447.

Mondell, D. A. (2017). No longer accepting exceptions: Exceptions to the exclusionary rule of the fourth amendment are unconstitutional as applied to smartphones. Journal of High Technology Law, 17(2), 346-371.

Pryor, W. H., Barkow, R. E., Breyer, C. R., Reeves, D. C., Rybicki, D., & Cushwa, P. K. (2018). Guidelines manual 2018. Washington, DC: United States Sentencing Commission.

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Schulhofer, S. J. (2016). An international right to privacy? Be careful what you wish for. I-CON, 14(1), 238-261.

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