They chose to charge keith hopkins with a lesser

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they chose to charge Keith Hopkins with a lesser charge and recommend life in prison rather than a death penalty as with Steve Chapman. This was due to the result of factors such as his help during the investigation, his aid in locating evidence that helped convict Chapman and his remorse over the crime. The same factors were used to sentence Hopkins to life in prison. Ethics also play a large part in discretion within the criminal justice system. For police, they have an ethical duty to uphold the law. As public servants, they are often under intense public scrutiny for many of their discretionary decisions. Attorneys also have an ethical duty to uphold the law. Yet there are two ways to follow the law: the letter of the law or the spirit of the law. The latter is where discretion is used the most within the criminal justice system. Attorneys and judges do not face as much public scrutiny as law enforcement officers. As a result, it is
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important that they recognize the possible consequences of their decisions. It is not about winning a case at all costs, but making the best case possible so that it withstands legal scrutiny while upholding all party’s legal rights (Gruber, 2017). This is especially important because Running Head: DISCRETION & ETHICS 5 when the public views the criminal justice system as operating openly and ethically, they have more trust and faith in the system. When the public has more trust in the system, it operates better. It is a circle that runs smoothly and is detrimental to due process. Simply put, ethics is the determination of what is right and what is wrong. Discretion is the grey area of ethics. For example, if you borrow a firearm from someone and then they ask for it back, the right thing to do would be to return it to them. What if they were suicidal though? Then the ethical thing to do would be to not return the firearm to them, even if it was not technically the “right” thing to do. This is known as Plato’s Cave: where the moral choice may be different from the right choice (Banks, 2017). These types of choices present themselves to law enforcement officers often. Another example of Plato’s Cave: an officer pulls over a vehicle that they observe driving erratically.
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  • Spring '16
  • criminal law, Steve Chapman

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