Discretion in System of Criminal Justice Essay

Application of Discretion in System of Criminal Justice

(Cole, 2004), argues that, since discretion is applied by each of the various parties of the criminal justice system, uses of discretion may differ according to their roles as well as powers are given to them. For example, when police officers forward a suspect to a prosecutor, the decision is made on whether or not to pursue the particular charge that the suspect has been arrested for. Discretion powers allow the prosecutor to drop a case based on several considerations which include, offenders characteristics, characteristics of an offense, likelihood of conviction as well as availability of civil remedies. Prosecutors may also make decisions on whether to reduce charges, seek indictments or have charges filed for adjudication. The second application is judicial discretion where a judge is allowed to make a decision concerning a case within a particular specification.

That is, the precedent or legislation lays down some constraints within which they expect judicial decisions to vary according to the judicial actors discretion. These may include probation, dismissal of charges, and setting of bails, and acceptance of pleas. Thirdly, discretion can be exercised by the jury in the system of criminal justice. Upon hearing the evidence presented before a court by the defendant and petitioner, a jury decides on a verdict based on the judges instructions as well as the evidence presented.

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Advantages of Discretion in the Criminal Justice System

Discretion has been found to be very essential in a system of criminal justice due to its various roles in the system. One of the advantages of discretion is where it allows a variety of decisions that could not have been anticipated by bodies of legislature to be made. This is because, its impossible for these bodies to predict all circumstances regarding each and every crime, predict mores, and put forward laws that cover all criminal and noncriminal conducts. Therefore, the application of discretion provides room for flexibility of decisions where crimes are judged accordingly but within specific limitations put forward by law.

A high level of discretion leads to the professionalism of decisions made. That is an increased level of discretion results in considerations as well as discussions of various possibilities before arriving at final decisions. Increased discretion also provides an allowance for different laws that vary from nation to nation and region to region. This variation occurs as some countries may consider a certain aspect to be illegal while others may consider it legal. Other differences may be due to the fact that different charges are laid for similar crimes and that some nations allow a greater variety than others, calling for a high level of discretion in the system of criminal justice. (Cole, 2004)

Disadvantages of Discretion in the Criminal Justice System

(Cole, 2004), argues that, there are a number of disadvantages associated with theapple action of discretion in the system of criminal justice. These disadvantages are based on two problems, one related to the definition given to the term, while the other regards its job autonomy. Discretion has been found to which results from its ambiguity in literature. This consequently leads to its application by the various actors in the system of criminal justice. For example, the quantitative definition of discretion does not provide means by which behavior should be measured.

A high level of application of discretion resuins to abuse of the same, where actors of the court find themselves diverting from the law or arriving at decisions based on erroneous evidence. Some may become biased in their decision-making, for example when a decision is made to favor a particular offender because he/she belongs to a with the judge. A lot of discretion may also lead to possibilities of corruption among actors of the system of criminal justice.

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