The Crime in Question
On vacation to the US State of New York last summer, I witnessed a violent assault as a man physically attacked a supposed girlfriend at a bar just outside of Brooklyn. Violent assault makes for a common crime in New York outskirts such as Brooklyn. Most cases involve mostly domestic assault and robbery (Wood, 2009). As an upgrading slum in New York, Brooklyn comprises mostly an African American demographic. With the birth of a cosmopolitan city, both organized and common crimes have escalated in Brooklyn. As the most populous city in the state, crime is a recurrent phenomenon in Brooklyn. Social crimes such as prostitution and other deviant crimes such as mugging are common in this city, which is home to over 3 million people. A recent Gallup survey reveals that Brooklyn’s rising population struggles in an economy characterized by straining access to job opportunities, which leads to petty crimes such as pickpocketing, petty theft, and prostitution. Progress in the region is derailed by partisan politics between liberals and conservatives on critical issues such as immigration status, crime, and labor (Amar & Lettow, 1995).
Assault in New York Criminal Code
Enclosed in the law of criminal justice is a strict code of ethical conduct for law enforcement agencies, the courts, and every other institution charged with the responsibility of protecting and serving the public. In the chosen state – New York – violent assault is viewed both criminally and socially. In criminal consideration, the perpetrators of such crimes must be held accountable; socially, the law seeks to prevent recurrence of such crimes for the benefit of the society(Amar &Lettow, 1995).As explained in New York state law, the fundamental role of criminal justice is to help fight crime by way of reducing the predisposition of people to commit crime and lessening the number and level of crime within reasonable means (Solomon, 1984). Reducinga person’s predisposition to commit criminal offenses is only possible through the comprehensiveof what triggers crime(Wood, 2009).
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Suspected Offenders’ Legal Entitlement
Fifth Amendment rights
Under the auspices of the US Constitution, suspected offenders have certain rights and entitlements. For instance, the Fifth Amendment seeks to protect US citizens from the abuse of government power. It requires that all felonies and criminal offenses “be tried upon indictment by a grand jury” (Congressional Research Service, 1982). This amendment unequivocally states that the arresting officer must notify the suspect of their rights to have legal representation present during the questioning. Pursuant to this right, confessions are not admissible in the state of New York unless there is probable cause to show that the defendant was notified of these rights as stipulated under the Fifth Amendment by the questioning officer. New York laws requires the prosecution to further show that the suspect understood this clearly before waiving Miranda is it so happened (Maier, 2010). New York enforces the Fifth Amendment to protect anyone arrested for committing a felony from self-incrimination. Suspects have the right to plead this right while put in such a position.
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Sixth Amendment Right of “Assistance to Counsel.”
In line with the due process clause as applied by the Supreme Court to the states, there are procedural criteria set forth by the Sixth Amendment in reference to criminal proceedings. The constitutional text reads in part, “…a defendant has the right to legal representation as stipulated in the Fifth Amendments’ Miranda clause…” (Wood, 2009). In the vent that the defender cannot meet the legal expenses to facilitate a trial proceeding, the state of New York, as obliged by the constitution, must provide ‘assistance to counsel.’ (Amar & Lettow, 1995) The defendant has the right to choose how they want to be represented. As such, under the Sixth Amendment right of legal representation, a defendant may also seek pro se representation by waiving the right to an attorney. New York courts, however, reserve the discretion to deny this waiver if, in its reasonable judgment, the defendant is incompetent to waive counsel. This was the case in Godinez v Moran (Maier, 2010).
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The Defendant in the Case of Violent Assault
In the case of violent assault, as I witnessed it, New York law enforcement somehow overlooks the basic requirements of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments as they appertain to suspect’s rights. Violent assaults are common in Brooklyn and most of the times they involve domestic affairs. Most of the culprits as well as the victims are ignorant or illiterate to understand the law as it appertains to their rights. In the case I witnessed, the arresting officer did not even inform the suspect of their basic constitutional rights. Even after arraignment, the provided assistance to counsel never invoked these rights; the court slapped the defendant with probation and community service. Assault cases are treated more like social concerns as opposed to violent crimes, as witnessed in Brooklyn.
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There is a striking similarity between the police culture in New York compared to the US in general. For instance, the duty of informing the defendant of their constitutional rights seems to elude law enforcement officers everywhere in America. Likewise, few states are able to provide effective legal counsel to defendants who cannot afford legal fees. This undermines the principle of equal representation.
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