The US Criminal Justice System
According to due process, every citizen has the right that is protected by the constitution in the event that a court of law or the government is to take a course of action that affects the citizen. The due process of law comprises of two categories; procedural and substantive. From a functional point of view, fundamental safeguards are implemented to protect the citizen from criminal injustices that are discriminatory, biased or unfair. On the other hand, procedural due process redefines principles and rights in a procedural manner to protect basic rights of fairness. As a key to the legal system, due process comprises the goals that include preventing and controlling crime and ensuring justice prevails. As such, procedural due process involves legal activities that are regularly carried out in line with established rules and principles. The substantive due process is a judicial requirement. It serves to ensure that the laws in action do not result in unfair, unreasonable and arbitrary treatment of an individual.
The first known application of due process was in the fifteenth century. However, the current notion of substantive due process dates back to the US Supreme Court’s decisions in the nineteenth century. There are certain basic principles that apply to the application of procedural due process. Among them is a formal hearing. The hearing is scheduled once a prompt notice of charges is procedurally read to the convict, and they are aligned in a court of law. In this case, the accused is not obligated to answer any question as the right to counsel applies. However, the right does not protect confrontation of accusers and cross-examination of witnesses by the jury. To be sure that the individual does not undermine the proceedings of the case prior to conviction, freedom from self-incrimination is exercised. It is the right of the jury to present evidence and back it up using witnesses to ensure that the conviction of the accused is without doubt. Prior to the rule of law and the sentencing, written reasons are provided that form the foundation for the verdict. The decision is then reviewed procedurally to offer an incriminating and yet irrefutable sentence to the case. Despite the observation of the due process to the letter, there are certain cases that emerge where the rights of the defendant are not entirely observed.
From the description of the principles and rights in the procedural due process, it is evident that aspects of arresting and trying persons are encapsulated in this clause of due process. The central provisions in the procedural due process are as contained in the bill of rights. The rights and freedoms protect individuals from unauthorized searches and seizures. Prior to conducting a search, a court order signed by a judge in the form of a warrant is provided to the accused. Other freedoms that an individual is entitled and are captured in the procedural due process include freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, double jeopardy, and self-incrimination. The state has to proof beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused is convicted of the crime they committed. The US justice system adopts a procedural approach towards arresting and convicting criminals. During the arrest, their rights are read, and prior to alignment in court they are presented with a public defender.
The part of the law that defines, creates and regulates rights is substantive due process. As a result, different states have different definitions of various crimes. As part of criminal law, there are certain aspects that apply to substantive due process among them being the uniformity, penal sanction, specificity, and political. Substantive due process incorporates new rulings in the court of law that are in favor of the current situation as provided in the justice scales of balance. In most cases, the new ruling contradicts former decisions and judicial practices. The judgment is influenced by changes in society and the norms and practices that the people adopt and believe with time. For example, during the 1930s, substantive due process was used by the court to eliminate federal legislation. The particular law was associated with the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The proposition of Roosevelt in 1937 to appoint additional justices in favor of his programs was a court-packing scheme. One that was never adopted nor implemented but changed the position of the court as it started upholding New Deal legislation. As a result, the freedom of contract version is abandoned by a majority in the court in favor of the substantive due process. The support is particularly attributed to the underlying goals of criminal law embedded in substantive due process. Among them is the need to enforce social control making it difficult for powerful individuals in the society such as the president and political leaders to change the law in their favor. Criminal behavior is prevented and wrong doing punished which leads to a restoration and maintenance of social order. In the United States, the application of substantive due process is imminent in court where the actions of judges are scrutinized to ensure they comply with the law. Also, if evidence is collected using illegal means, it is not admissible in court.
In conclusion, due process ensures that statues are precise. For example, if an activity is being restricted by the government, clarity is required regarding which activity is to be limited and why. According to the American constitution, a vague statute is eliminable under due process.