Logical Fallacies and Criminal Justice

Logical Fallacies and Criminal Justice

Ashford University

CRJ 524 Ethics in Criminal Justice

Logical Fallacies and Criminal Justice

According to Philosophy 103 (n.d.) logical fallacies is defined as roughly speaking, an error of reasoning. When someone adopts a position, or tries to persuade someone else to adopt a position, based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy (Philosophy 103, n.d.). Logical fallacies than others are more common. Errors of reason is when people speak logical fallacies, rather than broader fallacies. This paper will describe five logical fallacies from the list, impact of each fallacies in the criminal justice, and how each logical fallacy impact the professionalism, preparedness, and daily function in the criminal justice process.

Ad Hominem argument fallacy is an argument used to counter argument of another, prejudice based on feelings which is often irrelevant to the argument, logic or reason, rather than facts. This type of fallacy is witnessed in courts, debates or politic. For example, a defendant’s character was attack by a lawyer rather than addressing or questioning the case based on information of the theft charges, instead the defendant’s level of poverty was address. This type of ad hominem arguments is a form of verbal attack and appeal to emotion and prejudice when using this type of fallacy.

Appeal to pity is when using specifically emotion to persuade attempts for sympathy, rather than evidence. When pity is played, an individual or group are affected certainly about the group and what that person thinks; appeal to pity is effective highly and quite common, fallacy. For example, when the 911 attack on the United States at the Pentagon, news media show graphic images of burned people. The jurors on this case had to make decision if the defendants in the case should be executed or life in prison. Prosecutors hoping the evidence provided will help jurors opt for the death penalty but evidence was emotional. This type of appeal to pity fallacy is a form of emotional responses and not a good guide to the truth of the case; issues will not be clarified because of the emotional graphic scene. Reason should be based on our laws, rather than emotion and follow the law for justice.

Appeal to force is when using threats to persuade someone. Appeal to force is a Latin name for “argumentum ad baculum,” meaning “argument with a cudgel.” For example, police officer arrest suspect for questioning of a robbery at a convenient store but officers told suspect if commit to the crime or suspect will get harsher time for the crime. This fallacy is a form of threats because the officer is using excessive force to solve a crime that not sure if the suspect is the criminal.

Straw man fallacy is an argument that is misrepresents to make it appear weaker than actual, misrepresentation is refutes and concludes real position can be refuted. For example, gun control is to control legal guns and stop illegal activity. This straw man fallacy straw man fallacy suggested that controlling guns will stop illegal activity or gun used.

Red herring fallacy is a logical fallacy, distraction, and listener that changes the subject with intentionally diverting an arguer from argument by another topic. This red herring fallacy can be frustrating and effective to observe. For example, discussion on the topic of death penalty and criminal’s punishment cause others to question the death penalty and laws.

The impact of ad hominin in the criminal justice does not give counselors the right to attacks their opponents. According to Saunders (1993) ad hominin directed toward the judge, whether abusive or circumstantial, is also unacceptable and may even lead to a citation for contempt (Saunders, 1993). The appeal to pity impact is the jury trial and the information that they received from the media before the trial can have an impact on the criminal justice system. Appeal to force impact is how the officer handle themselves when making an arrest. The impact in the criminal justice system will have an impact on this fallacy because of excessive being used during arrest. Straw man fallacy always has an impact on the criminal justice system because of the gun laws control and guns that are out in the community. Red herring impact on the criminal justice is the law for that state on death penalty and how they handle the death penalty. These fallacies have been problems in the criminal justice system for years and still being workout to past laws to help improve the criminal justice system.

These fallacies discussed in this paper gave definition of the fallacies, examples and how it impacts the criminal justice system. These fallacies can impact the professionalism of the criminal justice process if not follow the laws guidelines, for example, lawyers are to try their case with the evidence that was given to them and make a case out of it; not attack the defendant with other issues that not related to the cases. Preparedness and daily functions can help with the criminal justice process by doing the duty of the individual according to the laws. There are multiple examples of these fallacies discussed in this paper and they all have reasons. Logical fallacies in the criminal justice process is to correct the problem when it first happens and justify your conclusion.


Banks, C. (2016). Criminal justice ethics: Theory and Practice (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Philosophy 103-Introduction to Logic: Critical Thinking: Informal Fallacies (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.logicalfallacies.info/

Saunders, K. W. (1993). Informal Fallacies in Legal Argumentation. Michigan State University College of Law