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What Is Due Process in Crime Control? - Definition & Guarantees

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  • 0:00 Due Process in Crime Control
  • 0:52 Investigation and Evidence
  • 2:24 Arrest and Interrogation
  • 3:39 The Criminal Trial
  • 4:08 Post-Conviction Rights
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kimberly Moffitt

Kimberly has taught college Sociology and Criminal Justice classes and has a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice.

Due process refers to the means, guaranteed by the Constitution, for insuring that the government provides justice to its citizens in all legal proceedings. Learn more about due process in crime control and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Due Process in Crime Control

Every individual accused of breaking the law is entitled to due process. Due process refers to the means, guaranteed by the Constitution, for insuring that the government provides justice to its citizens in all legal proceedings. In a nutshell, the state must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person. The Bill of Rights is the popular name given to the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which are considered especially important in the processing of criminal defendants.

Due process has guarantees in five major areas: investigation and evidence, arrest, the interrogation, the criminal trial, and post-conviction rights.

Investigation and Evidence

The Fourth Amendment provides protection against unreasonable searches and seizures as a way to protect citizens from overzealous law enforcement officers and judges eager to secure criminal convictions. Searches are considered unreasonable if they interfere with a person's expectation of privacy. As a general rule, the higher the person's expectation of privacy, the higher the likelihood that police cannot search it without a warrant. Since people have the highest expectation of privacy in their homes, a law enforcement officer must either be in hot pursuit of someone or have a valid warrant before searching a home. The exclusionary rule, also known as the 'fruit of the poisonous tree' doctrine, prohibits the admission of evidence obtained illegally at a defendant's criminal trial. In other words, if an officer seizes evidence from a home without a warrant, it is highly likely that the judge will not allow the evidence at trial.

The Fourth Amendment also protects us against an arrest with probable cause. We can think of probable cause as being on a continuum, with an officer's hunch on one end and proof beyond a shadow of doubt on the other. Probable cause falls in between the two. Probable cause is the amount of proof required before an officer can obtain a search warrant, stop a suspect, or make an arrest. It requires enough evidence from which a reasonable person could conclude that the facts alleged are probably true.

Arrest and Interrogation

Under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, anyone suspected of committing a crime has the right to remain silent when questioned by police or prosecutors. In other words, if truthful answers to their questions would prove you committed the crime, you don't have to answer them. You can plead the fifth. This concept is rooted in the fact that the burden of proof belongs to the government to demonstrate the guilt of the accused. It is never the accused person's responsibility to prove his or her innocence. This is also known as our right against self-incrimination.

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