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Free «Policing within the Law» Essay Sample

Fact Pattern

In accordance to the operational legal measures, there are three basic levels of police encounter in a formal criminal justice system. These are essentially provided for under the fourth amendment, which gives provisions for measures to be considered by police officers as they execute their respective functions with due consideration of the legal system. The three levels are consensual encounter, questioning encounter, and custodial arrest. In the description of Officer Smith’s arrest procedure, the following is a description of the fact pattern:

Consensual Encounter

Consensual encounters essentially resemble the type of encounter subjected to strangers on the street and ordinarily involve subjecting the stranger to non-intrusive questions and no application of force (Levesque, 2006). In the passage, “At the end of the conversation, Radley went into the store and the officer walked back to Radley’s pick-up truck. The officer walked up to the driver’s side window (which was rolled up) and looked into the vehicle with the aid of his flashlight.” Here the officer merely inspects the car without intruding opening it to search inside. According to the Fourth Amendment, “The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall be issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation” (Levesque, 2006).



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Intermediary Level

This ordinarily involves a more formal interaction, which is elementally described as stop or halt for questioning (Levesque, 2006). From the passage, “Officer Smith decides to follow this vehicle even though the vehicle had not committed any traffic offenses. After following the vehicle for approximately five minutes, the driver of the vehicle pulled over and parked at a grocery store. Officer Smith parked his squad car and approached the driver, George Radley. Officer Smith asked Radley if he could talk to him and Radley agreed.” In the intermediary level there must be reasonable suspicion that a crime is about to be executed by the suspected individual. This elementally describes an ambiguous scenario in which the officer’s suspicion primarily arises from the fact that the he or she perceives a criminal tendency as seen in the People v. Martinez case held at the New York State High Court. “In Martinez the New York State high court held that officers may pursue an individual for questioning only if there is reasonable suspicion that a person is about to commit a crime” (Eterno, 2003).

Custodial Arrest

This primarily concerns arresting the individual on probable cause that they have indeed committed a crime. This can be seen in the passage whereby the officer first affirms his suspicion, “…Sticking out from under the front seat was a pair of rubber gloves, a glass cutter, a screw driver and a hammer.” He then proceeds to a background check on Radley after which it comes out that he could indeed have committed a crime as seen in, “A short time later, the dispatcher radioed to Officer Smith that there were three residential burglaries reported within the last ten days in the neighboring town and in every break-in, a class cutter had been used to make entry.” According to the legal provisions, here the Officer Smith had a right to proceed with his actions as this was a probable cause scenario. “Probable cause concerns not technical probabilities, but factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which prudent persons, not legal technicians, act. As stated by the Court in United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S 411, 418 (1981): The process does not deal with hard certainties but with probabilities” (Levesque, 2006).

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Justification of Officer Smith’s Actions

Officer was justified in his actions in that it led to arrest of the individual although subject to further proof. This further supported by the fact that there is enough evidence to implicate Radley as the criminal judging from the fact that he was new in the neighborhood yet the incidents has happened in the recent past. Moreover, Officer followed the correct proceeding of the law.


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