Introduction

/sociology-of-criminal-justice The sustenance of a healthy living environment where every person feels safe, and the whole population is productive; in turn, promoting the economy of the country is made possible by the Criminal Justice System (CJS), Canada. Any nation is considered successful if there is justice for the people, and also the citizens are abiding by the laws of the land. According to Griffiths, multiple procedures and considerations should be followed when a crime is committed. Some of the procedures and considerations that are necessary include following all the leads in a case, gathering of relevant evidence, and then passing sentences or ensuring that a suspect is charged, among others (Griffiths 2018: 74). For the victims, their loved ones, family, and community the Canadian CJS are often difficult and frustrating. Griffiths argues that crime is not only a legal element but also a sociological one – hence the need to have a sociological comprehension of the CJS (Griffiths 2018: 7-9). Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to provide a case study analysis of a case scenario and highlight the considerations for each stage of the criminal process and how the information may influence decision-making at each stage. A case involves various steps, and each of them is important in guiding on what step is necessary. This paper further highlights the factors that are relevant for decision-making at each stage while processing the case based on existing evidence. The paper provides analysis of all the stages of the criminal justice and case considerations in relation to the case that has been provided.

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THE STAGES OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND CASE CONSIDERATIONS

Investigation
The initial stage within this context is conducting a criminal investigation. This is an important part of the criminal justice process as it ensures that there are collection and provision of the right kind of information to the courts. Investigations start upon the witnessing or receiving of information regarding behavior that may be considered criminal. The investigation, depending on the credibility of the evidence, maybe quickly completed or may take a significant amount of time (Griffiths 2018: 85). In most cases, it is recommended that investigations should be done as quick as possible to avoid any possibility of any patty tampering with the evidence. Griffiths states that the police are the conductors of investigations; additionally, stating that a common crimes that are conveyed to the police are not major misconducts and therefore, the police officer that is in first attendance to the scene is usually the only resource that is needed (Griffiths 2018: 85). Considering the presented scenario, the investigation will initially work to establish the type of crime that has been committed. Specifically, within this scenario, the police would be looking to establish a case of physical assault. According to the Criminal Code of Canada, a person is deemed to have committed assault whereby they apply direct/indirect force intentionally to another person without their consent; additionally, a person attempts/threatens another person through acts/gestures, while openly wearing a weapon/imitation and accosts another person. Considering the case scenario, the case presented can be considered a case regarding an assault. This is because there has been the application of force directly on a person. According to the Criminal Code, assault is a crime that involves wounding, maiming, disfiguring, or endangering the life of another. Based on the scenario presented, there was an injury sustained by Nyla, who was caught between Carter and Jackson. Nyla was pushed to the ground and sustained a cut above the eye, resulting in the requirement of 3 stitches, although she notes that she is unable to point the specific person that pushed her down. Also, in the presented scenario, Carter punched Jackson in the face and proceeded to kick him in the ribs three times. As a result, Jackson was found clutching his ribs, had cuts on his face, and appeared to be close to losing consciousness. Finally, according to the scenario, Jackson participated in exchanging punches with Carter, which resulted in Carter sustaining a black eye and a bloody lip injury; additionally, Jackson then uttered a threat to ‘end’ Carter – this threat insinuating the intention to cause bodily harm and/or death. From the information presented, it is possible to note that there is enough information to help to investigate officers gather evidence.

Laying a Charge
After the investigations have been conducted, the next step in any criminal justice system is the laying of the charge. Laying of charges is only possible if the police confirm that there was a serious offense that has taken place, which warrants the laying of a charge. There has to be enough evidence that will allow the police to build as a substantial case. If founded on reasonable grounds and where the police believe that a crime has been committed, they will then lay a charge (Griffiths 2018: 204). Here, Griffiths states that the police exercise a considerable amount to discretion to lay an appropriate charge (Griffiths 2018: 206). When the decision has been made to lay a charge, the police officer then begins a process referred to as ‘laying information” (Griffiths 2018: 204). During this process, police or ‘informants’ as they are temporarily referred to, are then required to complete an information package. The information package they then provide contains a clear presentation of evidence they believe on reasonable grounds depicts that a person has committed an offense; the officer is then to deliver the package to the Crown attorney (Griffiths 2018: 204).

In regards to the presented scenario, the police should charge both Jackson and Carter, despite Jackson appearing ‘innocent’ in the case scenario. From investigations concerning the case, there is enough evidence which indicates that there was assault, and both Jackson and Carter should be charged. According to Griffiths and the Criminal Code, the police should consider how the fight began, i.e., get a background of how the entire incident started, and it will be key in the establishment of the cause and the existence of intent to commit the crime this is referred to as the ‘mens rea’ (Griffiths 2018: 6). Police should also take into consideration the actions of each individual and the responsibility each one of them had, including the injuries caused to every victim and how they were caused; this is referred to as establishing the ‘actus reus’ (Griffiths 2018: 6). They should also consider how the injuries to Nyla were caused to establish who would be charged for her injuries. They should also take into consideration the past criminal charges of both Jackson and Carter because such criminal activity among individuals is often an indicator of their susceptibility to engage in future crimes. Although neither Carter nor Jackson have been imprisoned, they are described as individuals who will, in the future, be contributing to ‘recidivism rates.’ Recidivism rates measure the number of prisoners who, upon their release, engage in crime once again and in result, return to confinement (Griffiths 2018: 345). A factor of this case that they should consider, but not give significant attention to is the presence of alcohol and illicit drug use. Considered should be participation in institutional treatment programs. Carter, due to his participation in the use of cocaine, should be required to attend a treatment group such as substance abuse management or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), in efforts to discourage this behavior in the future (Griffiths 2018: 341). In regards to treatment programs and the provided scenario, both Carter and Jackson should be required to participate in programs such as violence prevention and anger management due to their history of participating in an assault, Carters resorting to physical violence, and Jacksons resorting to administering serious threats (Griffiths 2018: 341).

Arrest and Pre-trial Detention
When a charge is formally laid against the person accused, the case now becomes part of the criminal court system. Considering the presented scenario, Jackson and Carter, both charged with assault, would become part of the criminal court system. In a scenario where the presented case goes to court, there may be a plea negotiation. A plea negotiation is a common step encouraged by lawyers towards a solution, as it is a shorter/cheaper option and, consequently a means of avoiding a formal court process (Myers 2019: 20). Otherwise, the case will proceed to trial. It is recommended that the parties involved should enter into a plea and avoid most of the issues that are involved when the case is officially launched. According to Myers, it is common practice in Canada for suspects to be remanded in pre-trial custody as they await their bail hearing (Myers 2019: 8). According to a statistic presented by Myers, 62% of people sitting in Alberta, Ontario, and Manitoba have not yet been convicted of a criminal offense (Myers 2019: 7). Myers suggests that the reasoning of such conditions is: to ensure that the accused appears in court, to provide public-safety – including the safety of any victims and witnesses, and to ensure confidence in the administering of justice. Pre-trial detention is, therefore, based on three grounds: Primary Grounds, Secondary Grounds, and Tertiary Grounds (Myers 2019: 15). Sometimes the court may feel that the defendant needs to be detained, and thus the individual will be remanded at the pre-trial.

The primary ground is in place to ensure court attendance, and the factors here include: the offenses nature and potential penalty, the quality of evidence collected, character of accused persons, record of compliance with previous court orders, the behavior of the accused while being apprehended, and evidence of flight (Myers 2019: 15). Detention may also be determined on secondary grounds, and this is for the sake of public safety as aforementioned – this is founded on the likelihood that when the individual is released back into society, they may engage in a similar offense (Myers 2019: 20). Considering the case that has been presented, the factors that should be taken into consideration are both Carter’s and Jackson’s criminal records, whether the accused party is either currently on bail or serving probation, the type of offense, and whether the accused has any form of addiction (Myers 2019: 28). From the records, it is evident that they are flee-risk, and thus there is need to have them on ore-trial detention to ensure appearance in court and ensure public safety. According to Griffiths, the primary deciding factors include the length of the accused’s record, the nature of previous convictions, and the similarity between past and present offenses (Griffiths 2019: 208). Considering the presented scenario, the crown should present a strong case against the accused; this case should depict the need for the accused to spend their pre-trail time in detention due to the accused’s perpetual engagement in unlawful activity. Finally, pre-trial detention may be based on tertiary grounds that is any evidence of a release bringing the administration of justice into disrepute with the public (Myers 2019:15).

The considerations that should be made by the court include the strength of the prosecution's case, the gravity of the charge against the accused, the condition surrounding the crime committed, and the possibility of a long jail term. Therefore, the Crown is expected based on these grounds to prove that the release of the accused would negatively affect the maintenance of peace within society (Myers 2019: 8). In a situation where the court does not order for the pre-trial detention of an individual, an order is placed for their release before standing trial. Based on the information offered during the bail hearing, the 1-34 potential conditions of release are established by the Crown (Myers 2019: 27) In the presented scenario, and the charge would fall under a summary offense. Conviction of a summary offense entails that the case would be heard in the provincial court, in the presence of a judge and without a jury (Griffiths 2019: 202). A preliminary hearing can be held before the trial, the purpose of this hearing is to establish whether or not there is enough evidence against the accused to justify an advancement of the case to trial (Griffiths 2019: 202).

Trial, Plea, and Sentencing The three aspects represent a time in the justice system that is very critical and which determines if justice is offered, and the defendant gets what he or she deserves. A trial offers both the prosecution and the defense an equal ground for evidence presentation. Each party is expected to offer their best presentations including the use of pieces of evidence to persuade the judge to rule to their favor. It is the position of the judge, in this case, to determine whether the presented evidence proves the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt (Griffiths 2019: 220). The trial process starts, and the prosecutor then presents evidence against the accused by calling witnesses to the stand who were present at the time of the incident (Griffiths 2019: 220). The prosecutor also, at this time brings forward any supporting material to the case. Upon these events occurring in succession, the Crown attorney would then conduct direct examination/examination-in-chief, and the defense is allowed to cross-examine the witnesses presented by the prosecution (Griffiths 2019: 220). Following evidence presentation, both the representation of Carter and Jackson in the presented scenario would be expected to summarize their cases and give a convincing rationale as to why the accused should be convicted or not; ultimately, a decision that is left to the discretion of the judge.

The trial’s outcome is uncertain as both sides have their strengths and weaknesses. The Crown and the defense may agree upon a charge requiring the accused to plead guilty or to accept the recommended sentence presented in a plea negotiation. According to Ling (2019), the benefit of a guilty plea or the acceptance of plea negotiation is for the victim who will then be protected from any emotional trauma that is tied to both testifying and the cross-examination process led by the defense. Therefore, considering the given scenario, such negotiating consideration should be looked into during the trial. As previously stated, the judge has the power to decide upon the sentence, upon arriving at a decision, the judge should take into consideration the content of the pre-sentence report, including any recommendations made by the Crown attorney and defense lawyer.

Parole Hearing
Parole hearing has been for long been used to determine whether an accused person can be released on parole supervision. After taking into consideration all of the presented evidence, the judge would reach a final verdict. The accused would stand before three potential outcomes; two of these possibilities include either a verdict of guilty or not guilty. These two outcomes apply to the specific case scenario presented; however, in a situation where a jury is involved in the trial, the third possible outcome is a hung jury (Griffiths 2018: 230). A hung jury occurs when a group of jurors was unable to come to a unanimous decision; these jurors also believe that a unanimous decision could not be reached (Griffiths 2019: 230). It is at this point the judge may need to order a new trial with a new jury or hold a trial where there is no jury involved (Griffiths 2018: 230). If the judge finds the accused to be not guilty of the crime presented, Myers confirms that the accused is free to go and cannot be tried for the same case again – this is referred to as double jeopardy (Myers 2019: 11) The case can only be examined again where there is an appeal by the Crown attorney that is then approved by the courts through an order (Griffiths 2019: 230). In the occurrence the accused is determined to be guilty, sentencing may be immediately done, or a sentencing date would be determined. According to Myers, sentencing is served at a 1:1 credit depending on time spent in pre-trial detention. The 1:1 ratio is presented to the convicted as a way that the CJS recognizes their time in pre-trial detention and administers a credit towards time served (Myers 2019: 25).

Following the sentencing, the accused may have an option of being granted parole after serving for a predetermined period. After the lapse of this period, the individuals have a right to apply for parole. Griffiths refers to parole as the opportunity for offenders to return to society where they serve the rest of their sentence. Griffiths states that the choice for granting parole is the duty of Parole Board. The parole board members should take into consideration the relevant and available information of the case in making their independent assessment of the susceptibility of the convicted offenders engaging in similar offenses. According to Griffiths, the parole board uses information from multiple sources; for example, police, Crown advocates, mental health specialists, courts, correctional establishments, private agencies, and victims to assess the possibility of re-offending and whether the risk can be sufficiently managed (Griffiths 2019: 363).

The Parole Board makes its decisions based on the principles outlined in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) (Griffiths 2019: 360). According to Griffiths, these principles require the board to consider societal protection as the foundation in which underlies and determines any case decisions made. These principles require the board to not only be steady with the guard of society but also be restricted to what is essential and proportionate for meeting the resolve of the conditional release (Griffiths 2019: 360).

In regards to these requirements, two factors should, therefore, be taken into consideration. These factors include the likelihood of the offender posing a risk to society before the cessation of their sentence. This demands engagement in a comprehensive risk assessment of all cases, including all past cases involving the offender. Therefore, the other considerations include their social and criminal past, contextual influences that may have contributed to their participation in crime and the CJS, the rationale, type of crime, and their comprehension of the crime. Also, the progress by the offender from being involved in programs of the institutions, behavior changes, and behavior while on provisional release for those with past offenses, including actuarial and risk assessment tool reports, statements from victims, and their release plan and existing support systems within the community.

CONCLUSION

The criminal justice system is a process that follows various steps to ensure that the right decision is achieved at the end. In Canada, the process is pertinent, and there is emphasis on how each of the steps is conducted to ensure efficiency and transparency. Additionally, it is done to ensure that the law of the lad is abided to and also there is promotion of justice in the society. Investigations often commence after witnessing or receiving information regarding behavior that may be considered to be criminal. It is the first step of a case, and it involves the collection of evidence in terms of information. Nyla was injured and required stitches while at the same time, Carter and Jackson both fought. When laying the charge in any criminal case the police is the only group that is involved. As a result, the police should charge both Jackson and Carter, even though the latter appears innocent in the case scenario. During the arrest and pretrial, the charge is assault; hence, Jackson and Carter become part of the criminal court system. During the trial, plea, and sentencing, the prosecutor presents evidence against that accused by witness calling and supporting material introduction. This is done to strengthen the case and ensure that the jury buys into the ideas that are being presented by the prosecution. During the parole hearing, the progress made by the offender by taking part in plans of the institutions, behavior changes is significant and determines their eligibility. Carter and Jackson should also be sentenced because they have previous convictions. They are not innocent because they have been involved in previous crimes as children and also as adults. More importantly, although believed should be overlooked by the court, Carter did engage in illegal drug use and participated in the use of cocaine, which belongs to the group of illegal substances in the country.

References

Griffiths, C. T., & Hatch, A. (1991). Canadian criminology: perspectives on crime and criminality. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 32(291), 313.
Myers, M. A. (1980). Predicting the behavior of law: A test of two models. Law and Society Review, 835-857.

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