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group ten ppp

  1. 1. The Judicial System and Due Process Patricia Velazquez Anthony Gallardo Pd. 3
  2. 2. Crime and Punishment • If there is a fundamental concern that Texans share with the rest of the country, it’s crime and punishment. The fear of being victimized is real to anyone who has read about criminal street gangs, auto theft, carjackings, or drive-by-shootings. • Texas lawmakers are starting to look beyond relative issues, to ask questions such as, “What can be done to diminish the need for more police, courts, and prisons?”. This new approach is in its formative stages but very promising. As of the early 1990’s, crime in Texas has been on a downward trend.
  3. 3. Reporting Crime • Each year, the FBI publishes Crime in the United States, a comprehensive statistical breakdown of crime categorized by type, region, rates, and even time-of-day. It is prepared according to a standard called the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). Although there seem to be thousands of crimes reported of all kinds, the UCR devised a list of eight index crimes. • Index Crimes are those eight offenses that the state and national governments use to perform statistical studies. They include: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, auto theft, and arson. Index statistics are used to establish and compare crime rates among states and regions.
  4. 4. Crime in Texas • Each year more than 1 million people are arrested in Texas for the commission of major crimes. Despite decreases in murder, rape, and other offenses, arrest numbers continue to escalate due to the flourishing illicit drug trade. • In the mid-1980’s thousands of people connected to the manufacture of methamphetamine were jailed and given the maximum 20-year sentences. But, manufacturing of home made drugs is on the rise once again. • In 2007 the legislature passed laws requiring retailers to keep certain cold remedies (used to manufacture meth) behind their counters. Other legislation empowers police and social workers to physically remove children found in the presence of dope labs.
  5. 5. Factors in the Crime Rate • A number of elements contribute to the crime rates. Most criminal justice experts agree that increased age of the average Texan over the past decade. This means that there are fewer individual in the “crime-prone” years of 17 to 24. • Another factor is the efforts of the legislature to keep violent and repeat offenders behind bars for a longer period of time. In 2005, and again in 2007, the legislature passed laws mandating longer sentences for the more serious and violent offenders, and has greatly expanded the punishment for the domestic and “dating” violence. The punishments have also increased dramatically for repeat offenders.
  6. 6. Corrections • The corrections system is costly, largely due to the expense of housing individuals convicted of committing criminal acts. There are other factors as well: actual cost of housing inmates, and increasing volume of the jail population. • Texas leads the rest of the nation in the state inmate rate. Texas also leads the nation in some form of supervision; 1 million people in jail, prison, probation, or parole. • This means that 1 in nearly every 20 adults is on the bad side of the justice system. As many as 5 percent of adult males in Texas currently incarcerated, on probation, or on parole.
  7. 7. Corrections Cont. • Criminal justice agencies and lawmakers acknowledge that better education and employment opportunities would play an important part in reducing the number of incarcerated Texans. • According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, almost 80% of Texas’s prison inmates did not complete high school and half were not employed when they were arrested. • It is estimated that it costs more than $16,000 per year to keep an adult behind bars. That cost is without considering the money spent investigating, arresting, tying, and convicting the individual offender.
  8. 8. Capital Punishment • No state executes more prisoners than Texas. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Texas death row inmates to be granted clemency or stays of execution, even when evidence exists that may suggest their innocence. • Capitol punishment is one of the most controversial contemporary issues. Supporters of the death penalty believe that much-needed prison space would be available if the state expanded the list of capital crimes and executed more prisoners. At any given time there are 400 individuals on Texas death row. This comparatively small number of prisoners hardly would make a dent in the total inmate population even if all these individuals were executed tomorrow.
  9. 9. Capital Crimes in Texas • Murder of a person whom the defendant knows to be a peace officer, firefighter, or employee of a penal institution who is acting in his official capacity • Murder of a person while the defendant is in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, or arson • Murder for hire (any party agreeing to participate) • Murder committed while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution
  10. 10. Capital Crimes in Texas cont. • Serial and mass murder • Murder of a child under six years of age • The retaliatory murder of any Texas judge • Any doctor performing a third-trimester abortion or an abortion on a minor without personal consent • Certain repeated sex crimes against children
  11. 11. Executions on the decline • As a result of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings and changes to the Texas laws made in 2005 and 2007, criminal justice analysis predict a slow but steady decline in the number of executions carried out in Texas. • Two of the three reasons why such a decrease in the use of death penalty are U.S. Supreme Court decisions affecting juveniles and mentally challenged individuals. The third reason is that the legislature has empowered juries to sentence defendants to life without the possibility of parole. • The supreme court held that persons 17 years or younger at the time capital crime was committed could not be executed. Because of this, several death row inmates were transferred to the general prison population and are now serving life terms, meaning most will one day be eligible for parole.
  12. 12. Various Levels of Law Enforcement State Level • The state law enforcement agency most visible to Texans is the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Highway Patrol. A division of the DPS known to non- Texans is the Texas Rangers. Texas rangers are an elite group of 100 state troopers that investigate major crimes and allegations of police misconduct. • There are more than a dozen other law enforcement agencies that operate at the state level.
  13. 13. Various Levels of Law Enforcement County Level • Each of Texas’s 254 counties has a sheriff, whose duty it is to maintain a county jail and to provide police service in the rural, nonincorporated areas of the county. Sheriffs are elected to 4 year terms • Like the sheriff, the constable is a county-level law enforcement official who is elected to 4 year terms of office and empowered to provide police services. • Although each county elects only 1 sheriff, as many as 8 constables may be authorized, depending on population.
  14. 14. Various Levels of Law Enforcement Special Districts • The Texas Constitution authorizes the formation of law enforcement districts to provide specialized police services for specific areas. • Most Texas colleges and universities have their own police departments, as do airports and public transportation systems. • These agencies are composed of licensed peace officers. Contrary to popular belief, the “campus cops”, or “rent-a- cops”, are empowered and obligated to take the appropriate police action when the situation calls for it.
  15. 15. Special Levels of Law Enforcement Local Level • Texas’s urban and most populous counties may have as many as two dozen municipal police departments to provide citizens with law enforcement services. These police departments vary in size, from 2 people to several thousand. • In the late 1990’s a new style of law enforcement emerged called community-based policing (CBP). CBP empowers home and business owners, community leaders, and members of all segments of the community to participate actively in the day-to-day operations of their police departments.
  16. 16. Due Process • Most state laws that regulate the conduct of individuals and groups can be found in the Texas Penal Code. • The Texas Penal Code defines and categorizes crimes and provides for a range of punishment. The Penal Code classifies offenses as misdemeanors, which are relatively minor offenses punishable by a fine and up to one year in county jail, and felonies, more serious crimes in which a convicted person may serve time in the state penitentiary.
  17. 17. Due Process • Due process is the rights guaranteed to individuals accused of committing criminal acts. • These rights include equal treatment and protection under the law, safeguards against cruel and unusual punishment, the right to trial by jury, the right to a court- appointed attorney if the defendant cannot afford to pay and attorney, and the right to face the persons who have made the accusation. • The exclusionary rule demands that any items or evidence gathered during an illegal search of a person’s private property be excluded as evidence against the defendant at the time of trial.
  18. 18. Stages of Due Process • For the accused, the first normal stage of the criminal justice process is the arrest. No person can be arrested unless probable cause can be established. Probable cause can be said to exist when it appears more likely than not that individual has committed a criminal act. • Unless an individual is charged with the crime of capital murder, he or she is allowed the opportunity to post bail. Bail is a cash deposit posted by the accused as a guarantee that he or she will return to court when summoned. The amount of bail is determined by a judge, who must consider the nature of the crime, the accused’s past record, and other factors.
  19. 19. Stages of Due Process cont. • During a lawful search, police officers may seize any of these categories of evidence: fruits of a crime, any items stolen or otherwise illegally obtained; tools of a crime, may be any item or instrument used during the commission of a criminal act; contraband includes, child pornography, drugs, and gambling equipment; the final category, mere evidence, pertains to items that tend to connect an individual with a crime.
  20. 20. Grand Jury and Indictment • For individuals accused of committing a felony, a critical component of due process is the right to have the facts of the case heard by a grand jury. The grand jury is comprised of 12 citizens who serve for 3 to 6 months and are chosen by judges of the district courts. • The grand jury determines whether there is sufficient evidence for the accused to stand trial. If 9 or more members find that the case should proceed to the trial stage, an indictment, also called a “true bill” is issued and a trial is scheduled.
  21. 21. Trial • After the indictment, the case is assigned to a prosecutor and prepared for trial. The prosecutor is an attorney representing the victim and that state against the accused. • Most criminal cases are disposed of by the way of plea bargain, the process of negotiating a settlement, usually for a lesser charge or less jail time. • Due process rights at the trial stage include the right to a trial by jury, although the defendant often waives this right and elects to have a bench trial, wherein his or her case is heard by a judge and no jury. • When a defendant opts for a bench trial, the judge hears the testimony and determines the verdict.
  22. 22. Trial • Prior to the trial, a jury panel is interviewed by the defense and prosecution. This process is called voir dire, and its purpose is to ensure that none of the jurors is predisposed to making a decision until after all the evidence is heard. The term “voir dire” means literally, to “tell the truth”. • A conviction in a criminal jury trial requires that all members of the jury agree on the same verdict. If a jury agrees on the verdict of “not guilty”, the defendant cannot be tried again for the same crime. In doing so would violate the defendants due process right against double jeopardy. The double jeopardy rule does not allow the government to prosecute an individual more than once for a specific charge.
  23. 23. Trial • If the final verdict is not unanimous, or if the jury fails to render a verdict at all, the judge declares a hung jury, or a mistrial, and the prosecutor has the option of requesting a second trial using another jury. Some of the factors the district or county attorney must consider when deciding whether to try a defendant again are cost and public sentiment. • Texas is one of a handful of states in which the jury decides the amount of time the accused will serve. When a jury trial results in a “guilty” verdict, a separate proceeding, with the same jury, is held to determine the sentence. No matter the outcome in a criminal trial, the defendant can still be sued in civil court by the victim or the victims family.