Criminal Justice and Ethics

The following sample Criminal Justice essay is 647 words long, in APA format, and written at the undergraduate level. It has been downloaded 494 times and is available for you to use, free of charge.

Ethics is important in most professions. However, it is not absolutely necessary when dealing in law. Ethics are subjective and unable to be measured, while the law is technical and procedural. In law, everything that is considered ethical also has a legal boundary to it. For example, it is not only unethical for an attorney to discriminate based on a client’s regardless of sex, race, creed, affiliation or socioeconomic status, it is also illegal. The obligations of lawyers are spelled out and detailed in the law, allowing little room for personal ethics or the lack thereof to affect their ability to properly advise a client.

Procedural defenses are necessary to maintain the integrity of court processes and methods. As a result, lawyers and officials must act in accordance with the law in order to officially prosecute and convict an individual (De Leon, 2001). Deviation from certain standards make the entire process futile and allows individuals to go free even when there is proof that they are guilty. The law has more to do with principles than ethics or right and wrong. As a result, unwarranted search and seizure or going about collecting evidence illegally cannot produce convictions.

An individual’s mental state is primary and essential when attempting to convict them of a crime. Intent and mental state help to determine whether the individual was acting with purpose and what state of mind they were in. The Model Penal Code helps provide a basic framework with which to refer to buy stops short of providing a comprehensive and exhaustive standard (Wechsler, 1952). Although the law is technical and procedural, it can still be considered subjective based on interpretation. This results in revised statutes and individual state boundaries specific to respective statutes.  

“Act” and “Voluntary Act” are also distinguished and used to determine intent and mental state. The awareness of the act matched with the intention to cause harm or distress make the individual more prone to be convicted because they were well aware of the damage their actions could result in. While mental state and intent can be hard to prove or disprove depending on the circumstances, jurors are under a controversial burden to help to process the information and provide their opinions of intent and culpability.

Sexual assault has been in the news significantly for the past few months. From high school party gang rape assaults and statutory rapes from teachers, it has been frequently covered in the media (Vercammen & Lah, 2013). While rape shield laws help to protect victims from potential abuse from the justice system by limiting a defendant’s ability to cross-examine rape victims, they do not always provide safeguards. In addition, the media and outside influences can cause emotional damage because of the negative publicity of the case. As a result, the psychological abuse is likely to occur and affect sexual assault victims whether it is at the hands of the criminal justice system or not. 

Shield law can also be significantly misapplied. In People v. Jovanovic, the New York Court of appeals ruled that a lower court was incorrect in barring emails in which the plaintiff had agreed to the encounter (Young, 2011). In this case, the shield law was misapplied because it barred significant information that could have exonerated the defendant. This shows the importance of proper interpretation and application of shield laws as well as the impact it can have on both sides of the court room.


De Leon, R. (2001). Some Procedural Defenses for Foreign Defendants in American Securities Litigation. The Journal of Corporation Law. 26 Iowa J. Corp. L. 717

Vercammen, P., Lah, K., (2013). Prosecutors weigh appeal of 30-day rape sentence in Montana. CNN. Retrieved from 

Wechsler, H (1952). "The Challenge of a Model Penal Code,” 65 Harvard Law Review 1097 

Young, C. (2011). Weekly Standard: The Feminine Lie Mystique. NPR.