Free «Constitutional Rights» Essay Sample

The United States Criminal Justice System has the responsibility of deterring crime, and this involves the law enforcement, investigation of crimes, arrest and trial as well as rehabilitation or imprisonment. However, the issue of rights pertaining to the suspects is controversial, as authorities have been accused of violation of the rights many times, which is a violation of the Constitution (Clancy, 2003). This essay seeks to discuss the four elements of arrest, the four requirements of search and seizure with a warrant, the aspects of plain view doctrine, the similarities, and differences in the means of identifying suspects as well as the basic constitutional rights for suspects before trial.

The Elements of Arrest

The Intent

Intent implies that the officer executing the arrest must have the intention of arraigning the arrestee in court or to aid the administration of law. The arrest is also a way of notifying the community that the apprehended person has been accused of a crime. Additionally, the apprehension also serves the purpose of deterring a suspect from committing another crime (Batten, 2010).

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Authority means that the law enforcement officers/police must have powers bestowed by the law to put citizens under custody/custodial arrest. Arrests must be legally done, and the officers must follow the process or instructions prescribed by the United States Constitution (Batten, 2010).


Seizure/detention takes place when the individual submits to the control of the arresting officers or when subdued in the case of resistance against arrests efforts. The officers restrain or take away the suspect to the police station for interrogation, awaiting the release or prosecution depending on the outcome of the interrogation (Batten, 2010). The individual may be handcuffed or locked up to avoid the escape from authorities.

Arrestee’s Understanding

Understanding implies that the suspect must know that they are under arrest. The notification can be either through verbal statements or just the actions of police officers in the form of forceful subdue, handcuffing, or placement in a police vehicle (Batten, 2010). However, understanding can only be there if the arrestee is conscious and in a sober state.

Requirements for a Search and Seizure with Warrant

Evidence of a Crime

For a warrant of arrest to be issued, there must be evidence showing that a crime has taken place in the property to be searched. If the crime has taken place outside the premises, there must be a connection between the place and the suspects involved. For instance, it might be a den for criminals or a place where the gang plans its operations (“Rule 41”, n.d.).

Contraband, Fruits of Crime, and other Illegally Possessed Items

If a place is said to have sheltered goods that are prohibited by the law, for instance, drugs and weapons, the court may issue a warrant, allowing the police to search and seize the items. Likewise, if a property harbors products of crime, such as the proceeds from illegal trade or robbery, the law enforcement can apply for a search warrant to confiscate the items (“Rule 41”, n.d.).

Relationship between the Property in Question and Crime

If individuals have the property that is designed or intended for use in criminal activities, for instance, a den or ground for conducting illegal trade among other crimes, the law enforcement agencies may seek a search warrant to flush out the criminals. Additionally, if it is actually used for the criminal purposes, a warrant of search and seizure is inevitable (“Rule 41”, n.d.).

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A Person to be Arrested or a Person Restrained Illegally

If a fugitive or a person, whom the court has issued a warrant of arrest, hides in given premises, the law enforcement officers may obtain a warrant to legalize their intrusion into the property in search of the said person (“Rule 41”, n.d.). Likewise, if a person is illegally detained in a building, the court may also issue a warrant allowing security officers to conduct a search and rescue mission as well as the seizure of the culprits and other necessary items.

The Aspects of the Plain View Doctrine

Plain view refers to a case of exemption from the requirement of a warrant of search and seizure. Therefore, the doctrine allows police officers to confiscate items that they recognize as contraband or as evidence in a case in question. The idea of plain view means that the officer can clearly see and identify the item in question. The aspects of plain view are described below.

An Officer’s Lawful Presence in an Area Protected by the Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution restrains law enforcement agencies from invading private property. However, an officer’s presence in someone’s house may be justified by a warrant of search and seizure, owner’s consent, or a response to emergency issues. If an officer happens to be in such premises due to the above reasons, then he/she has the authority to seize any evidence or contraband (Ryan, n.d.).

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Observation of the Items in Plain View

Plain view implies that the officer must have discovered the evidence or contraband without carrying out searches in the said property. For instance, when law enforcement agencies enter a house to search for stolen goods or to respond to a robbery and they happen to stumble on a gun without carrying out searches, they are justified to seize that gun as evidence of the crime that was taking place (Ryan, n.d.).

Eligibility of an Item as Evidence or Contraband

When an officer stumbles upon contraband or an item in question, he/she should be in a position to identify it as evidence or contraband without further intrusions such as searches or grilling the suspect (Ryan, n.d.). For instance, if a police officer identifies a jacket worn by a suspect as depicted by closed circuit television camera footage of a crime, the officer can seize the jacket as evidence to present to the court.

Comparison and Contrast between the Means of Suspect Identification

Composite Identification is similar to Line Up because the two methods focus on the physical characteristics of the suspects. However, the former is different from the latter because it entails giving of physical attributes of a person to the police or the media, for instance, the sketch of the person’s image or written descriptions and thus, it is used for the suspects who are still at large (Becker & Dutelle, 2013). The Line Up method, on the other hand, entails the parading of suspects for the witnesses or the prosecution to identify the real culprit.

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Biometric Identification has an attribute similar to that of Composite Identification and Line Up, and this is the focus on the physical attributes of the suspect, for instance, the fingerprints (Becker & Dutelle, 2013). However, the method also differs from the two because apart from the physical attributes, it also considers the internal attributes such as hereditary and genes, which is done through DNA tests.

The Basic Rights of Suspects during Trial

The Right to Trial by Jury

Article III Section 2 Clause 3 of the United States Constitution dictates that all cases apart from impeachment must be heard and determined by a jury in public and in a speedy manner. This law protects suspects from unlawful sentencing by other parties other than the jury (Del Carmen & Hemmens, 2015).

The Right to Counsel

The Sixth Amendment provides for legal advice and representation of suspects in the court by either their hired lawyer or a lawyer provided by the state. This right protects the suspect from self-incrimination. However, a suspect can voluntarily waive this right, but the court must examine his/her competency first (Del Carmen & Hemmens, 2015).

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The Right to Due Process

The Fourth and the Fifth Amendments dictate that the court ruling must follow the Due Process, and this means the compliance with the law. The right ensures that the suspect is accorded a fair trial free from bias or self-incrimination or intimidation (Del Carmen & Hemmens, 2015).


In conclusion, the law clearly states the limits of the law enforcement agencies. The elements of arrest are intent, authority, seizure/detention, and understanding. The requirement for a search and seizure with a warrant are evidence, contrabands/fruits of crime, relationship of the property to crime, and a person to be arrested or rescued from illegal detention. The aspects of the plain view doctrine are officer’s lawful presence in premises, observation of items in plain view, and the eligibility of items as contraband or evidence. The Composite Identification and Line UP are similar focuses on physical characteristics of suspects while the Biometric Identification focuses on internal and physical characteristics of suspects.

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