Judicial system is a judicial body established by the government that controls crime and imposes penalties on law violators. It differs throughout the whole country and depends upon the local jurisdiction. The main systems are state and federal, which deal with crimes within state boundaries and those of the federal level accordingly. Because of its complicated functioning process, the work of the judicial system organs is often hidden from the public eye.
To start with, prosecutors make decisions charge a case based upon whether they possess enough evidence and have enough force to continue the case and to win it. Preliminary, they gather all the necessary evidence with the investigation team and then decide whether they will be able to proceed with the case successfully. Besides, they should take into account whether the case results can bring any benefit to society.
One more important component of the judicial system work process is a grand jury. It is a legal body that conducts official proceedings to discover potential criminal conduct and determines the possibility of bringing criminal charges. It consists of 16 to 23 members. A defendant has the right to be heard by a grand jury. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, a jury of citizens must hear the evidence presented by the prosecutor and decide whether there is enough evidence to indict the accused of the crime (Criminal Justice System, 2014). If the grand jury decides that there is enough evidence to accuse the defendant of a crime, it sends an indictment or written facts concerning the guilt of an accused to the court. If the grand jury does not indict the defendant, he appears at the preliminary hearing in court. Here, the judge listens to the evidence and the defendant is either accused or released.
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Historically, the purpose of grand jury lies in providing a fair way for proceeding cases of people who were thought to have committed crimes. Nowadays, grand jury seems to be abolished, but still it remains an integral part of criminal cases in many states. Moreover, the purpose of this legal body is to decide whether there is a weighty reason to prosecute someone for a felony, but not to conclude whether the person accused is guilty or not. The grand jurys decision is usually limited to the information provided by a prosecutor and does not have to be unanimous as the award of the majority is enough.
A defense attorney, a lawyer that represents a defendant, is known not to be allowed to address the grand jury. He is present during the testimony and takes some notes, but cannot object or address the grand jury. Besides, a defendant can ask for permission to speak to his defense attorney in order to get some pieces of advice.
If the case is a kind of bogus, prosecutors can dispose it before it goes to a grand jury. Also, they may ask a grand jury to no-bill the case until formal charges are filed. As a rule, this concerns only felony cases. The defense attorney cannot dispose a case. His duty is to defend his client and to advise. If a defendant confides to the attorney that he is guilty, the lawyer must not reveal it to the court. Nevertheless, any defense attorney has the right to choose whether to defend a potential client or not.
Moreover, a prosecutor and a defense attorney can conclude a case before it goes to trial if a plea bargain is used. A plea bargain is an agreement that presupposes charging a defendant with a less serious crime in case if one pleads guilty. The defendant may also receive a less severe punishment due to the plea bargain. This allows the two sides to avoid a lengthy criminal trial and lessens the risk of a defendant to receive severe punishment. However, a plea bargain may become a dilemma for the defense attorney, because he should choose between satisfying his present clients needs and saving relationships with a prosecutor in order to continue helping future clients.
The process of plea bargaining is a private one and either side may begin it. According to the American BAR Association, usually the details of a plea bargain are not known publicly until announced in court (How Courts Work, 2014). That is the reason why plea bargaining often turns out to be out of the public eye. Besides, nowadays many cases are resolved due to the plea bargain. It has been argued whether it is beneficial for the defendant to plead guilty before the trial starts. The reason is that by doing that defendants give their rights to a prosecutor, esteeming a concession they receive higher than the rights they may use.
If to come to think of it, only guilty defendants resort to using plea bargains. If an accused person is not guilty, he will not confide. Thus, there is no reason for him to use plea bargain. Consequently, if a person uses it, he is guilty. Since the process of plea bargaining is private, the results of the case may seem unjust to the public. That is why making the process open to the society would be fair.
It is clear that judges incentive to accept a plea bargain is just to alleviate the schedule of trials, which is quite dense. One more stimulus is prison overcrowding, because judicial process is really difficult and there must be some ways to relieve it. Prosecutors, in their turn, are also interested in plea bargains for some causes. First of all, it lightens their caseload. Then, they may use plea bargaining against co-defendants. In this way, they may be sure of at least one conviction that increases chances of winning the confession against the co-defendant. For the defendant himself, it is important to use a plea bargain in order to receive a less severe sentence and to save costs that would be spent on the trial process.
Still, only a plaintiff may not be satisfied with the fact of a plea bargain application, especially in some severe cases. For instance, a mother whose child was killed wants a criminal to get his just deserts. In the case of a plea bargain, he is sentenced more lightly. This is painful for the plaintiff who will never agree that the death of her child costs less than it is needed. This is one more fact that makes a plea bargain process doubtful.
In addition, this system may abuse the rights of defendants. For instance, they may find themselves under pressure on the part of detectives or other members of the court. They may be pressed to plead guilty for the benefit of the court as discussed above.
In conclusion, this system has its effects on equal justice, namely destroying it. Of course, not all the cases must be considered unjust due to such a conclusion, but many of them do. Judicial system needs to be improved until the rights of citizens are fairly defended. Nevertheless, it is impossible to reach a perfect judicial system, because it is based on human activity which cannot be considered perfect due to containing vices.