1) The criminal law regards robbery as a more serious offense than other kinds of property-related crimes such as burglary, larceny, or embezzlement. Robbery ordinarily involves more than the simple act of taking what rightfully or legally belongs to another person. The crime of robbery involves violent acts and criminal behavior or the threat of violence. Not only is the property of the victim threatened but so is the victim’s physical safety. During the course of a robbery attempt, the victim is threatened with physical harm for non-compliance with the demands of the robber.
Defining what actually constitutes physical force or the threat of force during a robbery is not always a simple matter. Clearly, brandishing a firearm or a knife and threatening to kill or injure the victim in order to extract money or property from the victim involves physical force. The victim is exposed to considerably greater danger than what would be the case in the instance of a mere theft of property. Even if the robber does not intend to kill or injure the victim in the event of non-compliance, there is the danger of an unintended discharge of a firearm, or the victim being injured in the process of attempting to practice self-defense.
Many jurisdictions likewise recognize the crime of “strong-armed robbery” where the victim may be subject to physical force not directly involving an actual weapon but where the robber acts to restrain the victim physically or threatens to injure the victim through punching or kicking (Smith, 1997). An unarmed robber may also lead the victim to believe that he possesses a weapon. In such a situation, the victim experiences the same psychological trauma that would accompany actually being robbed as the point of a gun or a knife. For these reasons, the criminal laws of most states reasonably treat robbery offenses, even those not involving the actual possession of weapons, as much more serious crimes than ordinary theft.
2) It is a rather curious fact that prostitution continues to be considered a criminal offense in many jurisdictions in light of the changes that have occurred in Western societies regarding sexual mores in recent decades. Traditionally, prostitution was subject to criminalization because of its violation of moral codes derived from religious teachings. In past times, acts of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, cohabitation, and the distribution of pornography were likewise considered criminal offenses for the same reason.
Following the “sexual revolution” which swept the Western world during the 1960s and 1970s, all of the aforementioned sexual behaviors were decriminalized and the social taboo against them was weakened as well. Indeed, it would appear that prostitution is the one violation of traditional religious morality that remains illegal, even as other forms of commercialized sex have become readily available, such as stripping and phone sex. Pornography is readily available to persons of all ages on the internet. It would appear that the continued criminalization of prostitution reflects a kind of cultural lag whereby the criminal laws of the society have not maintained pace with rapidly changing social mores (Phoenix, 2001). Also, the inability of prostitutes’ rights organizations to create an effective political lobby for themselves may explain much about why prostitution continues to remain illegal.
3) While the United States has an adversarial system with regards to the respective roles of the prosecutor and the defense attorney during criminal trials, it is also the case that the defense attorney maintains responsibilities other than winning cases for clients at all costs. The practice of law is considered to be a public trust, and attorneys of any kind are considered officers of the court. Lawyers have responsibilities not only to their clients but to their profession, the courts, and to society as a whole.
The American Bar Association maintains rules of professional conduct with which licensed professional attorneys are expected to comply. Violations of standards of professional ethics may lead to professional sanctions being imposed upon an attorney, including the loss of the license to practice law (Flowers, 2010). Lawyers must also comply with all legal standards governing court proceedings and the process of defending clients. Failure to comply may result in a citation for contempt of court, and in severe cases jail or prison terms may be imposed.
Defense attorneys must also refrain from aiding or abetting their clients in the carrying out of criminal acts. A defense attorney may not offer advice to a client on how to more effectively commit crimes or avoid detection. A criminal defense attorney is also ethically bound to report any clear and present dangers to other people or to society posed by a client. For instance, if a defendant states his intention to murder someone to his lawyer, it is the lawyer’s responsibility to inform the proper authorities in order to prevent the crime from taking place.
Flowers, R. K. (2010). The role of the defense attorney: Not just an advocate [PDF}.Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol , 647-652. Retrieved from http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/students/groups/osjcl/files/2012/05/Flowers-FinalPDF.pdf
Phoenix, J. Making Sense of Prostitution, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001.
Smith, J. C. (1997). Law of Theft. London: LexisNexis.
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