Police discretion term papers

The prosecutor has the choice prosecutorial discretion to prosecute a case or drop the charges as well as suggesting plea bargains.

This is what police discretion looks like CHP

The judge has discretion every time an objection is raised or evidence is given. The jury has discretion over the final verdict. These examples are only a small cross section of the chain of choices that is criminal law. One article shows that when officers respond to a call for service , if an area has a high rate of Black or wealthy citizens then it significantly affects the officers' decision to downgrade a crime or incident reported. Officers' experience in different surroundings affect the way they react to service calls.

Police Discretion Essays (Examples)

The economic status, poverty level, race and ethnicity influence the officer and how he sees and reacts to his surroundings. Scholar Michael Banton stated that "In different neighborhoods police provide different services". This is a good example of how and why police are able to use discretion in the performance of their duties.

Different environments and neighborhoods provide different levels of dangers and greater levels of crime taking place than others. Which is why an officer might choose to downgrade a crime in a wealthy neighborhood compared to an economically unstable one.

The article also states that merely being in a different environment from the one the officer lives in or is accustomed to forces the officer to treat it differently. Thus, the officer would then treat the individuals differently. This can be an argument either for or against police using discretion.

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On the one hand, all people should be treated equally regardless of race or economic status. On the other hand, officer and public safety are the most important duties for an officer. If an officer can recognize that a certain area requires a different approach in order to keep that safety, they should use that discretion appropriately. In civil actions, judges and juries are also deemed to have discretion in the matter of damages. Judges also have discretion in the grant or denial of certain motions , e. Prosecutors have a huge discretional role in the criminal justice process.

They have the ability to initiate and terminate all criminal prosecutions. They have to use discretion to weigh the rights of the accused, the feelings of the victim, and the capacity of prisons when determining a proper punishment. Prosecutors control plea bargains and thus have possibly the most discretion-based role in the criminal justice process.

If they believe a person deserves to be in prison, they will pursue that route, knowing that the prisons are very full and would then lead to a person being released early without serving his full sentence. It is often hard to control officers' use of discretion because of the way it is applied to situations. Unfortunately, the police have an ability to perform an abuse of discretion without being noticed or regulated by the judicial or legislative community in what is referred to as the "legal shadow". In this place questionable police tactics are being performed and, in a sense, covered up with police privilege backed by government support.

Although there has been some effort by the federal government to regulate police discretion, unless there is a conflict including the Constitution, it is difficult for them to involve themselves. Most of the time police misconduct doesn't draw enough attention to include federal intervention. The exercise of discretion by judges is an inherent aspect of judicial independence under the doctrine of the separation of powers. The standard of review applied to appeals from decisions involving the exercise of judicial discretion is " abuse of discretion.

Studies show that police officers use discretion to simplify their very complex job requirements and also to identify certain individual priorities, as each officer has to apply the very broad and often contradictory laws put into place by statutes and policymakers. If officers had to cite or make an arrest on every law being broken, we would need a police officer for every citizens.


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We leave it up to the individual officer to use discretion in cases where a gray area resides. Should an officer ticket every person that speeds? Where do they draw the line? This is one of many situations where discretion comes into place. There are other things that contribute to the individual officer's use of their discretion.

1 INTRODUCTION

Often the sex or minority status of an officer would lead them to act in different ways and use discretion in different ways than that of the opposite. Where an officer was raised or what they have experienced would lead them to react to scenarios differently. Not all discretionary usage by law enforcement is negative. They often use it so that they can simplify and weed out the true criminals from the average citizen.

The element is job satisfaction and autonomy. This is because the police are employees of the criminal Justice system and their interests such as job satisfaction should be protected to ensure their effective and productive performance. This comes with the freedom to make amicable decisions at the crime scene. These decisions in cases of Domestic violence have to pertain the safety of the police officers and the situations in the Crime scene at large. Police discretion also allows the police to use force in cases they believe the offender of the domestic violence case may be too malicious to their personal safety.

For example, when the police come to save a person from abuse of family laws, the police may have to face an armed husband or wife, posing a threat to both the victims and the law enforcer. Bearing in mind that the police should perform his duties to the best interest of the law, in this case discretion allows the police to use force to confront the offender. The foremost concern of the police should be preserving life. Therefore, discretion allows the police to do anything possible at the crime scene to prevent the life of the victim, the offender and the police himself.

This is because it creates some unpredictability in the cases that have a domestic setting. Therefore, potential offenders do not find any loophole in the law. There is always a space left for the police to make a decision at the crime scene depending on the nature of crime and all the factors surround the crime.

This phenomenon discourages criminal activity since the criminals are not sure of the decision that the police would take, once they confront the crime scene.

Police discretion paper

This ensures that the police perform best in heir line of duty to counter domestic violence in different cases and still remain unpredictable. The police discretion is also advantageous to the country in economic terms. The discretion gives the police the power to arrest only the person they believe have broken the law recklessly. Therefore, the officers are free to follow only the person the find to be most responsible for the criminal act committed at a crime scene.

Police Discretion Essays and Research Papers

Besides being economical, it allows the police to arrest only people who are guilty of an offence committed at home. Discretion prevents law enforcement officer from stupidly enforcing the law to the letter. In some circumstances of domestic violence, the law should not be exceedingly strict especially between a husband and wife at the family level. The arrests that the police make at the domestic level are wise and prudent, and that is why discretion is provided for in the law. Also, Discretion enables the Police officers to act to the best interest of the victim and children at the family level.

The nature of cases that the police face in this setting also calls for discretion. For example, the police face the dilemma of making an arrest or not, when the victim of the crime is willing to forgive the offender. In such a scenario, the police officer is free to make a decision that favors the interests of the victim and the offender.


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  • Therefore, the circumstances surrounding the cases of domestic violence require that police discretion is exercised often, to ensure that fairness and Justice prevails. Police discretion also promotes conflict resolution in cases of domestic abuse. The decision of the police affects both parties of a conflict with a domestic setting.