Discussion Questions

  1. Discuss in your own words
    the concept of checks and balances, and how it is used in the US.  Make sure you include all three branches of
    government in your discussion
    • Checks and balances is a system in place to make sure no branch of government has too much power. 
    • The legislative branch makes laws, and it has the certain checks over the executive and judicial branch.  The legislative branch can override presidential vetoes and remove judges through impeachment.

    •  The executive branch carries out the laws, but also has checks over legislative branch like veto power, and they appoint Supreme Court
    • and other federal judges to keep Judicial Branch in check.

     The Judicial branch interprets laws. Judges are free from control by executive branch, and they can keep legislative branch in check by judging acts to be unconstitutional.
  2. Explain why there are so many exceptions to the rights that are afforded us by the Bill
    of Rights.  How did these exceptions come
    There are many exceptions to the rights in the Bill of Rights to identify specific situations that may occur.  For instance, the Fourth Amendment guards against unreasonable search and seizures, and states that police must have a warrant to do a search.  Exceptions to this right include consent, plain view, and open fields.  Exceptions such as these are usually decided by Supreme Court cases.
  3. Select one of the amendments from the Bill of Rights that was NOT discussed in this chapter and discuss the rights or guarantees that are presented in it.
    The tenth amendment says that any power not given to the federal government is given to the states.  Its purpose was to ensure that the federal government did not have too much power and that the states could still retain their freedom and sovereignty.
  4. Discuss the importance of the Fourteenth Amendment and explain how it applies to the
    criminal justice system.
    The fourteenth Amendment is important because it defines what US citizenship is and it contains the Due Process and Equal Protection Clause.  The first section is called the Due Process Clause and it applies most to the criminal justice system.  This clause guarantees all people in the US the right to due process of law in all criminal proceedings.  This clause enforces the Bill of Rights on the states.
  5. How have the moral values in the US changed over the past two hundred years and how have these changes affected our laws?
    Morality 200 years ago was quite different than today.  Back then we had slaves and women weren’t allowed to vote.  Murdering Native Americans was accepted.  As government started to understand that African Americans, women, and Native Americans were actual human beings with rights, more laws were written to help.  Laws were written to give women and African Americans the right to vote.   Also, while morality has changed in our country to become more intolerant to hate crimes against minorities and gays, laws were written to provide harsher punishment for these types of crimes.
  6. Discuss how the laws in your local community may be different from those in other communities around the state or country.
    In a neighboring county, prostitution is legal, though it isn’t anywhere else.  We also have more liberal alcohol laws.  We do not have loose marijuana laws, though, while other states allow possession in small amounts.  But we have legal medicinal marijuana.
  7. Select either the Due Process Model or the Crime Control Model and give the reasons why you think that model should be adopted as the sole basis of the criminal justice system in the US.
    I prefer the Crime Control Model.  The swift and sure justice makes the society feel more secure.  If we quickly try and rid cities of criminals, this will serve as a deterrent to future criminals.
  8. Discuss why there are over twenty-one million criminal cases processed in the US every
    year.  Why is this number so high?  What can we do to reduce this massive
    I believe the crime rate is high because the punishments are weak.  Our criminal justice system spends too much time prosecuting druggies when rapists, robbers, and murderers should be focused on more.  There needs to be swift and harsh punishments for hard crimes.  This will act as a deterrent to possible criminals.  Also, victims that use guns for self-defense may deter criminals.
  9. How many mala prohibita laws can you identify?  Discuss why they are designated as such and whether you agree with the fact that they are prohibited.
    These are laws that are illegal because they are prohibited, not inherently evil.  Some include public intoxication, carrying a concealed weapon, speeding, and tax evasion.   They are wrong because the government says they’re illegal.  It is not morally wrong to be publicly intoxicated.  It is not evil to speed.  I agree that they should be prohibited as these kinds of laws provide for a safer and more pleasant community.
  10. Using the definition of the crime of burglary that was referred to in this chapter, answer the questions that follow this scenario: An undercover police officer is standing outside a convenience store when two men walk up and stand close enough to the officer so that he can hear their conversation. The officer hears one suspect tell the other that he was going to enter the store and steal a six-pack of beer. He further states that he is going to grab the beer and run out of the store and run to a nearby park and drink the beer. The suspect then opens the door to the convenience store and takes a step inside. In this scenario, when can the officer arrest and charge the suspect? Does he have to wait for the suspect to leave the store with the beer, or could he arrest him when he enters the store? When have all of the elements of the crime of burglary been met?
    The officer can arrest and charge the suspect after he takes the first step into the store.  If he waits until he leaves the store, he could only be charged with shoplifting.  But as he’s entering the store, all the elements of burglary have been met:  It is day or night; the suspect has entered the shop with the intent to commit petit larceny.  This is burglary.  He does not have to actually commit the theft; he just has to enter the building with the intent.
  11. Look up and discuss some of the offenses/infractions that are laws in your local jurisdiction.
    Though prostitution is allowed in brothels in some counties, it is not legal in Las Vegas.  Also, open containers are illegal in cars except in cabs and cars that accept fares.  Bars are allowed to be open 24 hours.
  12. Discuss why deadly force cannot be used when protecting personal property, other than the exception of dealing with the home.
    Deadly force is only allowable to when the person has a reasonable belief that imminent death or substantial bodily harm to himself or herself or a third party would result if they did not act.  Someone getting caught stealing your car should not result in an instant death sentence for the criminal.  It is immoral and illegal to kill someone to protect property, and it is murder.  It is acceptable in the home if people are in the home when the intruder arrives.  Then it is reasonable to expect they are there to commit bodily harm.
  13. Explain why ‘voluntary’ intoxication is not a valid defense in a criminal case.
    When a person voluntarily ingests alcohol or drugs, they are responsible for their actions even if they cannot remember what they have done.  When one voluntarily becomes intoxicated, they are making a conscious choice to do so, and are accepting all the risk involved, including possible criminal behavior.
Card Set
Discussion Questions
Midterm Discussion Questions