CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCESS
Generally speaking, the concept of the legal system can often seem very complex, confusing, and intimidating. However, to assist in comprehending the system, the state of Kansas has defined a sequence of events in processing criminal cases where each action encompasses a specific function. Whether it is the police officer who investigates the crime, the prosecutor who must gather the facts for action, the defendant who must obtain a lawyer and prove their case, or the judge and jury who determine the fate of the offender; having a basic understanding of the law is imperative in protecting individual rights. Within this paper I will discuss the Kansas state criminal justice process and the multifaceted decisions that ensure justice is provided to all.
Although the Kansas criminal law process is disclosed, it still may be difficult for an individual to navigate through the system alone. Therefore, once a person is taken into custody, he/she should immediately seek counsel to assist in the legal process. The first step in the criminal process is the investigation by law enforcement before an arrest is made. Moreover, an investigation of a said crime may be initiated in many ways. For instance, it could be as simple as an officer who witnesses a vehicle speeding or something that requires a more collective effort such as a 911 call from a bystander. An officer may speak to only one person or it may involve multiple witnesses being interviewed where evidence may be gathered over time. If an officer believes that there is enough evidence of a crime, he/she can try to obtain a search warrant. This process includes a judge who will review the information and approve/disapprove the warrant based on probable cause. Probable cause, as it applies to a search, is the facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that evidence is in a particular place (Wright, 2013).
After law enforcement has conducted their investigation, a criminal arrest will transpire. A person may or may not be aware that they will be taken into custody, but in either situation, it is important for that individual to obtain the representation of an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. An arrest is defined as a seizure of a person and/or deprivation of his/her personal liberty by a legal authority or under legal authority (Gale, 2002). In Kansas, an officer of the law may arrest a person for the following reasons: a warrant commanding that person to be arrested; has probable cause to believe that a warrant for the person's arrest has been issued in this state or in another jurisdiction for a felony committed therein; has probable cause to believe that the person is committing or has committed felony (KSA, 2009). No matter where or when an interrogation occurs, the person in custody (deprived of his or her freedom of action in any significant way), must be read their Miranda rights if the suspect's answers are to be used as evidence at a trial (Merriam-Webster, 1996). A Miranda warning is not required if a person is not in police custody; however, anything the person says can still be used at trial if the person is later charged with a crime. This exception most often happens when the police stop someone on the street to question him/her about a recent crime and the person blurts out a confession before the police have an opportunity to deliver the warning. Therefore, it is critical that a person in custody does not answer the police/detective’s questions without having a lawyer present. This will ensure the individual’s rights under the Fifth Amendment are protected and they do not make any self-incriminating statements.
Kansas divides crimes into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. A felony crime can be defined as a crime that results in incarceration of one year or more in jail or prison (Wright, 2013). The state of Kansas has four types of...
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