3 they must be told that they have a right to have a

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3. They must be told that they have a right to have a lawyer present during questioning and that a public defender is available. These are known as the Miranda Rights. The recent conservative Supreme Court has made exceptions to self-incrimination ruling that if other evidence is enough for a conviction, a coerced confession is a harmless error that does not necessitate a new trial. The Fifth Amendment also forbids coerced crimes, encouraging persons to commit crimes that they otherwise would not commit. D. Trial by Jury Most cases do not go to trial. In American courts, approximately 90 percent of all cases begin and end with a guilty plea. Most cases are settled through plea-bargaining; a bargain struck between a defendant's lawyer and a prosecutor that the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for a state's not prosecuting that defendant for a more serious crime. Critics argue that plea-bargaining permits criminals to avoid facing the music, full force of the law. It does, however, save time and money that would be spent on a trial. Studies show that more defendants who went to trial ended up going to prison compared to those who pleaded guilty and had no trial. Plea-bargaining allows judges to clear cases, police to get a conviction, prosecutors to win a case, and criminals to get a lesser sentence. The Sixth Amendment ensures the right to a speedy and impartial jury. “Speedy,” of course, is not defined. Jury selection is no longer left to chance. Jury consultants are often hired to develop profiles of jurors likely to be sympathetic or hostile to a defendant. 5
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ISS 225 Crime (Challenges) The Supreme Court has ruled that potential jurors can not be eliminated on the bases of race or sex. E. Cruel and Unusual Punishment The Eighth Amendment forbids cruel and unusual punishment but it does not define it. Almost all the constitutional debate over cruel and unusual punishment has centered on the death penalty. There are approximately 3,270 people on death row today. Since 1976 there have been approximately 1,220 executions in the United States. For a great source on information and statistics on the death penalty see . For summary tables and figures on the death penalty see: . Browse through these statistics. Several Supreme Court cases have dealt with capital punishment: 1. Furman v. Georgia (1971) Georgia's death penalty law was challenged on the basis that it was applied more frequently to African Americans than to members of other groups. The Court overturned the Georgia death penalty law ruling that the death penalty was often imposed in an arbitrary manner in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and Eighth Amendment. The Court did not say that capital punishment, per se was unconstitutional. This resulted in many states changing their laws by meeting the Court's objections to the arbitrary nature of the sentence.
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  • Fall '07
  • Williams
  • Criminal Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, United States Bill of Rights

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