The criminal justice system
The criminal justice system ensures the safety and protection of society from criminal offenders. The process of the criminal justice system begins when a criminal offense is reported to law enforcement officials. If required, an investigation begins, leading to a warrant and arrest.
Following the arrest, bail is set and a preliminary hearing is scheduled. If the defendant is indicted, a trial date is set. Providing the defendant does not waive the right to a jury trial, a jury is selected and the trial begins. If the defendant is found guilty, a sentence is imposed, usually within a few days of the jury’s verdict. If the defendant wishes, he or she can then appeal the guilty verdict and sentencing, thus beginning the trial process again. Police officers, detectives, prosecutors, and defense attorneys make great efforts to ensure justice is served swiftly and fairly, thus creating a strong and effective criminal justice system.
Description of the Crime Jodi Arias was arrested in July 2008 for the brutal murder of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Travis was stabbed twenty-seven times; his throat was cut, and he was shot in the head in his Mesa, Arizona home. Jodi and Travis met at a Prepaid Legal conference and began dating. They fell in love, travelled together, and attended the Mormon Church together. Shortly thereafter, Travis ended the relationship with Jodi to pursue someone he found suitable for marriage.
In the months following, friends of Travis say Jodi stalked him, although she denies these allegations. Following the murder, detectives found a camera in the victim’s washing machine. The camera contained pictures of Jodi and Travis engaged in sexual activity on the day of the murder and pictures of Travis after he was killed. Despite this evidence, Jodi denied murdering Travis; however, she admitted to being present at his residence the day of the murder. When she was questioned the first time, she stated to detectives that Travis was attacked by masked men as she looked on from a distance.
As the trial began, Jodi offered a second defense, stating to the court that she killed Travis, but acted in self-defense after repeated abuse by the victim (Owens, 2013). The trial of Jodi Arias is still active and the prosecution is seeking the death penalty due to the heinous nature of the crime. Criminal Justice Process Jodi Arias was arrested in July of 2008 and charged with the first-degree murder of Travis Alexander. Prior to her arrest, detectives performed an investigation and questioned Arias.
Ideally, the investigative process and questioning should be completed within the shortest time possible to avoid problems with witnesses and evidence alteration (Gerstenfeld, 2008). Once the investigation and questioning concluded, the defendant was arrested and charged. Shortly thereafter, the defendant would be reviewed for bail. In the case of Arias, bail was denied due to the heinous nature of the crime and in the interest of public safety. The next step in the criminal justice process that the defendant would experience is grand jury indictment or a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause.
Prosecutors present evidence to a grand jury without the presence of a defense attorney for grand jury indictment. A preliminary hearing is an alternative to grand jury indictment (Arizona Felony Court Process, n. d. ). Jodi Arias was indicted by a California grand jury on July 9, 2008, thus establishing probable cause to prosecute. The final step before the criminal trial is arraignment to advise the defendant of the charges and allow the defendant to enter a plea, usually guilty or not guilty. Sometimes, arraignment takes place at the same time as the initial appearance.
However, Jodi Arias was arraigned on September 11, 2008 and entered a plea of not guilty (Dolak, 2013). It is at this point that Arias and her defense attorney may have benefited from a plea deal to potentially avoid imposition of the death penalty. Since the defendant pleaded not guilty, the case moved on to the trial phase. The final steps of the criminal justice system the defendant will experience are trial and sentencing. The trial begins with opening arguments from both the prosecution and the defense.
After these arguments, the trial proceeds with the prosecution presenting evidence and questioning witnesses and sometimes experts. The witnesses and experts are each cross-examined by the defense attorney before the witnesses and experts leave the stand. If necessary, the prosecution will rebut after the defense’s examination. After the state completes this process and rests, the defense attorneys have to opportunity to call witnesses, experts, and the defendant in some cases. The prosecution is then allowed to cross-examine the defense’s witnesses, experts, and the defendant.
In this case, Jodi Arias chose to take the stand to plea self-defense. The prosecution was then able to present their case directly to the defendant in an effort to discredit Arias’ defense. After the defense rests, closing arguments will be offered—first by the prosecutors and followed by the defense attorneys—prior to the jury exiting the courtroom to deliberate. Once the jury returns with a verdict, it is read aloud in the presence of the prosecution, the defense, and the defendant. If the defendant is found guilty, a sentencing hearing will follow after the conclusion of the trial.
In the case of Arizona versus Arias, the prosecution is seeking the death penalty in sentencing. Therefore, the jurors must meet certain criteria which are determined by questioning of the potential juror’s view on the death penalty. The current standard for death penalty jurors is based on the case of Wainwright vs. Witt (1985) which states that if a potential juror has strong opinions about the death penalty that would prevent or substantially impair the performance of duties, the juror should be dismissed.
The jurors must be able to fairly weigh death penalty versus life without parole (Butler, 2007). When the jurors leave the courtroom for deliberations, they will weigh aggravating and mitigating factors to determine if the death penalty should be imposed (Cornell University Law School, 2012). Based on the heinous nature of Arias’ acts combined with a poor demonstration of mitigating factors, the defendant in this case may receive the death penalty. However, if a guilty verdict is returned by the jury, Jodi Arias will have the opportunity to appeal. Analysis
As the trial of Jodi Arias begins to move toward a conclusion, the prosecution has made a strong case against the defendant. The evidence provided by the prosecution has proven the state’s case beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, the detectives made great efforts to locate, classify, and present sufficient evidence for the prosecution to be successful in obtaining a guilty verdict. In my opinion, the detectives and prosecutors have presented a much stronger case than the defense. Further, it may have been in the best interest of the defendant for the defense attorney to convince Ms.
Arias to attempt for a plea deal to avoid the death penalty, especially considering the preponderance of evidence against Ms. Arias. The defense has done a poor job of presenting a sufficient self-defense case; therefore, it is my opinion that the defense counsel is the weakest link in Arizona vs. Arias. Conclusion The criminal justice process can be frustrating to all parties involved. The efforts that must be made from investigation to sentencing require a great deal of time and effort for both the prosecution and the defense.
In order to preserve rights of the accused, the system must work effectively to ensure justice is applied in a timely manner while taking cautions to avoid violating Constitutional rights. The process of investigation, arrest, arraignment, indictment, and trial ensure these rights are protected. Although this process takes a considerable amount of time, the personnel of the criminal justice system continually strive to innovate, improve, and increase efficiency of the criminal justice system.
These practices allow for a more streamlined process, ensuring swift and fair justice for the victim, the offender, and the families of all parties involved. Although the Arias case has been grueling, the actions taken by detectives, the courts, and the attorneys have proven that our criminal justice system is still strong and effective and that justice will always be served to the best of our system’s ability.