Origins of American Criminal Law

Origins of American Criminal Law






Origins of American Criminal Law

Question 1

The selected constitution amendment is the fourth amendment. The text states that people are entitled to safety. This includes when they are in their homes and no one is allowed to search them without a search warrant. The search warrant will be given if there is a reasonable purpose and it has to state specifically what or where the search is being done (Pearl, 2009). Therefore, any unwarranted intrusions or seizures will definitely be considered as trespass. This amendment was made because initially there used to be a general search warrant called writ of assistance. It was being abused by searching irrelevant places, which could be termed as trespass. This thereby led to the introduction of a specified search warrant. Pearl (2007) explains that this amendment originated from an English doctrine created by Sir Edward Coke. He stated that one’s house is his or her private dwelling, where he has his jurisdiction. Therefore, not even the king has authority to interfere with anyone’s home. There ought to be a good reason if it happens.

The significance of this amendment is to protect the right to privacy of the citizens. Some government agents are insensitive and could exploit a person by searching or seizing him for no substantial reason. A citizen is entitled to his or her privacy not unless it poses as a threat to the public well being. If an agent shows up at one’s doorstep and demands to search private property without a warrant, the person should refuse. Citizens should only allow a search if they have the correct warranties (Davies, Croall &.Tyler, 2009). This amendment protects citizens from criminals who might pose as government agents but they intend to steal or rob an unsuspecting resident. This law does not only apply to homes alone but in any other private place or property. For example, an individual has an account in a given bank. No personnel are allowed to access customers’ account details without a good reason. This is even worse if that bank teller reveals the information to unauthorized people. He or she is liable for trespass charges.

Question 2

A federal government is one that has strong central powers and a state government is one that is self-governing. The federalism gives power to both the executive and the state as well. In making criminal laws, each branch has its jurisdiction (Davies, et al., 2009). For example, if a situation is not in the federal government jurisdiction, then it is the responsibility of the state government to intervene and act accordingly. This applies to even the making of the criminal laws. The state government has greater powers than federal government. Most laws are made by the state government. If some of them do not lie in either the state or the federal government, then they lie within the people. The reason for the limited powers is to act in favor of the citizen, since state government is self ruling. In addition, different states have different laws. Therefore, the federal and state government will practice their powers of making criminal laws, depending on the state in question.

Question 3

Criminal justice is defined as the areas offenders go through to prove their innocence or guilt. If they are found guilty, they are sentenced or the judge passes his or her ruling. There are three bodies and they include law enforcers, adjudication and the correction department (Pearl, 2007). The criminal justice system has its goals, which have been set. The first is to maintain law and order. This is done by the law enforcers. They are police, sheriffs and Marshalls. Their work is to identify the areas where there is crime and the criminals. They arrest and take them to the station, investigate the truth and then they arraign the offenders in court. They are not supposed to punish the offenders unless under special circumstances (Davies et al., 2009). One such example is resisting arrest. The next goal is to punish the guilty people. This is done by the court’s ruling. The judge gives the most appropriate punishment in accordance to the constitution. The offenders are sent to the correction department to serve their sentence.

The third goal is to eliminate threats in the country. This is mainly handled by the defense department but the criminal justice assists by apprehending the people causing threats and taking them through the system. The fourth is to raise and maintain confidence of the public, in believing in the criminal justice system. When the public believes that the system is transparent and reliable, then they will give all the support they can to help maintain a crime free society. According to Freund (2010), when all these goals are compared, they are all directed in subduing and eliminating crime in the society and the country at large. The only contrast they have is that each focuses on a different way of dealing with crime but the result for all of them is similar. For example, punishing criminals is different from eliminating threats. What is common is the result. When criminals are punished and the threat is eliminated, the society or country will be safe.

Question 4

Police power is the capability of the state or country in controlling behavior and ensuring there is order in the given region. All this is for the all round well-being of the people in that region. Police power is wide and consists of many forms (Freund, 2010). For example, it can make laws and demand obedience from the people. This could be through legal sanctions, force or any other possible way. The limitations of police power depend on the branch or form of the government. For example, the Federal government does not possess general police power like the state government. Police powers are also limited by the constitution. If the constitution does not allow police powers to go beyond a certain point, then they are bound to obey. Freund (2010) mentions that there have been disputes about the police powers especially on how they demand obedience. Some of these methods like coercion are against human rights. This then is violating the human rights’ charter. Criminal justice is important in ruling a country and no country can be successful without it.


Davies, M., Croall, H., &Tyler, J. (2009). Criminal justice. California: Pearson Education.

Freund, E. (2010). The police power: public policy and constitutional rights. Illinois: Nabu press.

Pearl, N. (2007). The US constitution. New York, NY: Picture window books.

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