Criminal Justice Ethical Behavior
7. Ethical behavior must exist within a criminal court system to ensure defendants receive fair trials. Discuss the importance of ethical behavior within the criminal court system. As part of your response, discuss how ethical behavior has been defined for at least two professions within the criminal court system and the potential negative outcomes that can occur when ethical violations are committed.
Criminal Justice Ethical Behavior
All professionals in the criminal court system, including federal judges have a code of conduct that they must abide by. The code of ethics is a set of principles and guidelines that are meant to guide the federal judges’ ethical behavior, which was adopted by the United States Judicial Conference of the. According to the US Judicial code of conduct article, the Code of ethics provides guidance for the judges on such issues as judicial independence and integrity, judicial impartiality and diligence and the avoidance of impropriety (or its appearance). The judicial employees have a code of conduct that they use to help them carry out their duties.
The police have a have a code of ethics, which is very important to them, because the simply “have the authority to deprive people of their liberty” (Siegel & Worrall, 2014, p. 22). They must quickly respond to any criminal activity, make decisions that are a matter of life and death and must get correct legal evidence. Police officers are supposed to exercise high levels of discretion on whom to investigate, the extents to which the investigations should go and the efforts required to come up with authentic findings. The police, are expected to act in a manner that is sensitive to the rights and liberties of the citizens, while at the same time being responsive enough to protect them from anyone who poses a threat. A breach of this could led to the public losing faith in the state, since by practice the police act as the interface between the state’s power and the civilians.
Ethical behavior could be more important to the judges than other criminal justice practitioners. This is because the judges must be fair and independent in their interpretation of the law without relying on any other factors. Judges are often so much tempted to apply religious values, personal feelings and past experiences, which may interfere with their according to responsibility. According to Pollock (2012), American judges or candidate for judicial office should not engage in political activities, because that would interfere with the integrity, impartiality and independence of the judiciary. Violation of the code of ethics by the judges can bring into question the impartiality of the judicial system, where defendants will lose the hope of a fair hearing in the courts, and some may be given wrong sentences.
A prosecutors also have ethical standards they need to maintain, for them to be as professional as they ought to be. They need to provide honest and accurate testimony as well as supportive evidence that justifies their claims. When it comes to their knowledge that particular evidence was tampered with, a prosecution witness shows high levels of bias, or the eye witnesses’ account is flawed, they should not present that information. Downs (2012) explains that prosecuting attorney’s ethical code goes beyond the trial period, to post conviction stages. It should happen that when the attorney notices that evidence against a convicted person was false, he should recount the evidence, and upon noticing evidence that prove that the convicted individual did not commit the said crime, the attorney should present it (Downs, 2012). Violating this code of ethics can be very disastrous, because it may mean sentencing an innocent person, and in other instances letting an offender walk free because of an acquittal.
Code of Conduct. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2015, from http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-
Downs, J. (2012). Ethics in forensic science. Oxford: Academic press.
Siegel, L., & Worrall, J. (2014). Essentials of criminal justice (5th ed.). Boston: Cengage
Pollock, J. (2012). Ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice (7th ed.). Belmont, CA:
Wadsworth Cengage Learning
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