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Impact of Criminal Justice - Supreme Court Cases. Essay Example.

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Wesleyan University
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The Supreme Court of the United States has had huge impacts on criminal procedures by the police, courts and correction departments of the American Criminal Justice System. In our case, the focus will be put on the effects of decisions of the United States Supreme court on the police processes. The cases selected all depict issues that have to deal with the credibility of actions of the police during an arrest. Each case decision based on the holdings of the Supreme Court brings about changes which have then been used as a precedent in subsequent similar cases.

Arizona v. Gant, 129 Sc.D... 1710 (2009)

The Arizona v. Gant (2009) case changed the procedures for which police officers conduct arrests and carry out searching of automobiles of the arrested person. This case reached the Supreme Court of the United States following proceedings of the state Court for which the jury had found Gant guilty of all charges. The defendant had been arrested validly for driving a car with an expired license. The events of his apprehension were smooth with the arresting officer being able to handcuff Gant to the back of the police car. After that, the officer searched Gant's vehicle and found a bag of cocaine in a jacket which was in the back seat. Gant's charges.

As a general rule, warrantless searches are not constitutionally binding in a court of law, and therefore any evidence retrieved is considered inadmissible. Before the United States Supreme Court hearing for the Arizona v. Gant case, an exception to the warrantless search rule was contained in the New York v. Belton (1981). This ruling created a precedent that a police officer may search the passenger compartment of the car and any containers in the vehicle for evidence of arrest or weapons.

In the Arizona v. Gant Supreme Court Ruling, the Belton rule was revised as the judges stated that it did not give authority for the police officers to search an arrestees vehicle if the occupant had been arrested and therefore could not access the interior of the car. This implies that the police should only search the arrestee and places he/she can reach. In this scenario, Gant was no longer able to reach the interior of his car, and there was no reasonable ground to believe that a search would produce evidence to support the offense of driving on a suspended license. This reasoning led to Gant winning his appeal.

This case, therefore, changed the criminal procedure of conducting arrests of persons in vehicles by the police. I agree with the courts opinion on how the arrest should have been done. The police officers are no longer given the mandate to search one's vehicle without a warrant unless there is a reason to believe that they are justified to do so. The interpretation defines the jurisprudence of The Fourth Amendment. The change brought about by the Belton Rule was for the better because it highlights the importance of the Citizens search and seizure rights.

Florida v. Powell, No. 08-1175

A robbery investigation led to arrest of Kevin D. Powell and a gun found in the same room was admitted as evidence. After Powell was arrested by the Tampa police, he was told, You have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of our questions and you have the right to use any of these rights at any time you want during this interview. Powell was then put on trial and convicted to ten years imprisonment. The trial Court refused Mr. Powells motion to suppress incriminating statements during the interview as his Miranda rights had not been well read during the arrest.

Powell then appealed to the appellate Court which held that the trial Court was supposed to have suppressed the testimonials as requested by the defendant. This implied that the ruling on the gun possession charges was reversed. The Florida Supreme Court also agreed with the holdings of the Court of appeal citing that the evidence and confession used violated the Miranda rule and the state constitution.

In the United States Supreme Court, the interpretation of the case was different from that of the State of Florida Supreme Court. The Florida v. Powell hearing was based on the Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S 436. The requirement of the Miranda stipulates that a suspect has a right to be warned prior to questioning and also has a right to the presence of an attorney. The United States Supreme Court, therefore, was interested in establishing whether the reading made by the Tampa police clearly conveyed this message.

The Supreme Court of the United States arrived at the decision that the warnings by the police to Powell were as per standard and therefore, the ruling by the Florida Supreme Court was reversed and remanded. This decision changed the view of Miranda rights and gave the police a leniency in the manner in which arrests are made. The police are not obliged to use specific words, but instead, there is a requirement that the warnings must be satisfactory in any layman's language.

The change made in the communication of Miranda rights by the ruling of Florida v. Powell by the United States Supreme Court is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction for justice to be served. It ensures that the suspects in a trial do not walk away based on the choice of words used by the arresting officer.

Terry v. Ohio, 391 U.S. 1 (1968)

The Terry v. Ohio, 391 U.S. 1 (1968) case deals with the issue of whether a search for weapons without probable cause for arrest is an unreasonable search thus violating the Fourth Amendment. The fact of the case is that a plainclothes detective, Mr. McFadden noticed suspicious activity by Terry, the petitioner on a street corner. Terry was with another individual walking around and taking peaks into stores through the windows. By experience, the police officer considered their actions wary and thus chose to observe them more as he suspected a potential robbery.

The detective then went to question the men but first, performed a quick frisk which led to the discovery of a weapon being carried by Terry. The petitioner was then charged with the crime of possession of a concealed weapon and convicted of the charges. The United States Supreme Court made a decision which held that the Fourth Amendment is not violated by a police officer when he stops and frisks somebody based on reasonable suspicion. This implies that the ruling brought changes from giving such permissions only when there was probable cause. Instead, the police have a tolerance on stipulations by the Fourth Amendment.

The United States Supreme Court allowed the search due to the facts of the case which favored the actions by the detective. In this case, the reasonable suspicion was defined as armed robbery and violent crime. In my opinion, this change is good and for the better as it protects the public as well as police officers. Approaching suspicious people for questioning without doing a prior search could endanger the life of an officer. Provided that the suspects are not held for a lengthened period that defines an arrest without probable cause, then the Terry v. Ohio, 391 U.S. 1 (1968) decision was justified.


The power of the Supreme Court of the United States as contained in the constitution is undoubted. The three cases reviewed show changes made to previous rules such as the Miranda rights and also to parts of the constitution such as the Fourth Amendment. Such an action by the United States Supreme Court creates a reference point for which future cases are tried and decided. I believe that the changes are clearly justified due to the interpretations were given and because they create a better justice system.



Arizona v. Gant, 129 Sc.D.. 1710 (2009). Retrieved from

Florida v. Powell, No. 08-1175. Retrieved from

Grisso, T. (1998). Instruments for assessing understanding & appreciation of Miranda rights. Professional Resource Press/Professional Resource Exchange.

LaFave, W. R. (2004). Search and seizure: A treatise on the Fourth Amendment (Vol. 4). West Group Publishing.Terry v. Ohio, 391 U.S. 1 (1968). Retrieved from


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