Ethics in Criminal Justice
Table of Contents
The ethical component of criminal law can be explained from the standpoint of its essence, according to which the crime is defined as the embodiment of evil while the punishment serves as a means of restoring balance. Actualization and moral justification of criminal law are connected with the development of public relations and the transition of information processing to a new level. Thus, community immediately detects unethical behavior of its members. Nowadays, ethical knowledge and its application are becoming crucial to the criminal lawyers since the ethics of his or her behavior has a strong impact on the environment and the society in general.
The Relationship between Ethics and Professional Behavior
Criminal law is faced with the need for increased moral requirements and, therefore, special professional morality because it is directly related to the upbringing and education of a person as well as his or her relationship with the authorities. Hence, ethics has a strong relation to the professional behavior of a criminal lawyer. The relationship is manifested in a significant impact of professional behavior on the rights and interests of people with the consideration of ethics (Tancredi, 2013). Behavior of the main subjects of the criminal law has a powerful nature and consequently, an ethical background. Such subjects include the officials and other authorities that exercise power. They are endowed with the power to protect the interests of the society and the state from various encroachments. Thus, the authorities of every state can be estimated according to the professional behavior of the criminal law representatives (Kopko, 2011). The law, in some cases, directly determines the authoritative nature of the decisions made in the legal sphere. For example, sentences and decisions in criminal and civil cases are announced in the name of the state. The prosecutor supervises the adherence to laws and supports the state prosecution. All decisions of the law enforcement officers (rendered in accordance with the law on the criminal cases in his or her field of activity) are mandatory for all. The lawyer exercises the rights of the defendant conforming to the government legislations. Thus, their professional behavior affects the fundamental rights and interests of citizens in terms of law and manifestation of authority (Tancredi, 2013). Therefore, the professional behavior of the criminal law representatives must correspond to the ethical principles and norms of morality to protect the power of the authorities and its representatives.
The Role of Critical Thinking with Regard to the Relationship of Ethics and Professional Behavior
Critical thinking includes a system of judgments that are used to analyze and formulate valid conclusions, make informed assessments, interpretations, and correctly apply the results to the specific situations and problems. Its role in the interrelation between ethics and professional behavior is significant as it forms six aspects of behavior: refutability, logic, omnitude, honesty, repeatability, and sufficiency (Fowler, 2008). First, the professional conclusion in the criminal law should be refutable (Tancredi, 2013). The ability to provide such evidence or grounds that would prove the insolvency or impossibility of the proposed application is vital since it represents an ethical aspect of the realization of human rights. Secondly, any argument in defense of the criminal case must be logical and strict, while concluding rules must be observed correctly and consistently. Thirdly, the evidence proposed as the basis for a statement must cover all the issues related to the case. In other words, all available data must be taken into account (Fowler, 2008). Conflicting or negative data must also be considered to verify the reliability of criminal information. Fourth, the subjects of criminal law should do honest thinking as well as have freedom from self-deception in order to be ready to accept negative outcomes and be able to change the point of view or the position under the pressure of obvious data. The next aspect of critical thinking concerning the relationship between ethics and professional behavior is the repeatability of the announced result. Investigating the composition of a criminal offense, namely reproducibility, the repeatability eliminates errors, omissions, deceptions, coincidences or accidents. If the testimony associated with a particular certificate is based on experimental data, independent experts are likely to obtain the same results. The condemning argument of the criminal dispute should be sufficient and include reasonable grounds for its application (Tancredi, 2013). In other words, (for example, for guiltiness verdict) the absence of disproving facts, which literary leads to the assumption about the possibility of its refutation, is insufficient; there must also be confirmation of corroborate data, namely the evidence in favor of the stated judgment, (Fowler, 2008). Thus, these aspects of behavior of the criminal law subject ensure the legitimacy of law and adherence to ethical norms since they increase the reliability of each conclusion made.
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A Proposal for a Seminar in Ethics Training for Law Enforcement Officers
The issue of ethics and professional conduct in the field of criminal law should be reinforced with an additional seminar since it can have several significant advantages. First, the seminar can give participants new knowledge, experience and skills regarding the areas of ethical behavior through collected, analyzed, systematized, and filtered data. This will facilitate the digestion of the provided information. Secondly, the seminar on ethics encourages action. Participants will be able to update the information in the area of ethical conduct that they lack in their work to ensure its timely implementation. Thirdly, participants of such a seminar will have an opportunity to master information processing. Therefore, the seminar on ethics can play an important role for participants, strengthening the existing ethical base.
This particular seminar is beneficial for all criminal law subjects but is mainly concentrated on law enforcement officers (LEO). The program of the seminar should include ethical information about the following five areas of ethical conduct:
- Professional and ethical rules of officer’s conduct
- The culture of speaking and the rules of official communication
- Professional ethical standard of an officer’s anticorruption behavior
- The ethical standards of teamwork, leadership and participation
- Rules of conduct in the performance of operational and official activities (Gamble, 2012).
The first area of ethical conduct will concentrate on the general rules of behavior, its control, static characteristics, business style, etc. This sphere was chosen because high standards of professionalism and moral and ethical principles have to be common among officers since their behavior is an obvious claim of powerful legitimate authorities. The expected benefits of training provided to officers include internal an increase of professional competence and of self-discipline, and acquisition of behavior skills (Gamble, 2012). The anticipated advantages of training for the community include improvements in the business style in dealing with its members and ethical treatment in case of the need to make contact with LEO.
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The seminar should also investigate the culture of speaking and the rules of official communication including speech norms, courtesy and tolerance of treatment. This area was preferred due to the fact that speech is the main ethical tool of interaction with the public, which is unavoidable in the work of LEO. Officers will increase their professionalism during the seminar by eliminating obscene lexicon and enriching the content of speech with the terms of criminal law, making their speech thoughtful and meaningful. The community will boost the level of communication and understanding when contacting with LEO.
The third area should include the characteristics of corruption-related behavior. This topic was chosen due to its extremely important meaning in terms of the law as it can possibly assist in the management of fraudulent situations, implementation of anti-corruption means of protection, along with prevention and decisive overcoming of corruption (Gamble, 2012). The expected results of training for LEO imply an increase in moral cleanliness, integrity of the officer, his or her devotion to the interests of the society, as well as his or her fidelity to the duty. The outcome for the community will be expressed in enhancing the transparency and the publicity of legitimate authority.
Teamwork has its crucial ethical characteristics, for instance, maintaining the working conditions in the team, providing a supportive environment, establishing honest and fair leadership, etc. Consequently, this area was also selected for the seminar. The expected benefit for officers include the promotion of the positive emotional and moral state of mind, the high morale of employees, their attitude towards moral values and the degree of motivational readiness to perform operational and official tasks. The improvement of teamwork will have a negative impact on the community, but it will intensify the overall effectiveness when dealing with the members of the society.
The last area, namely the ethical conduct of operational detention, should also be emphasized in the seminar, (Gamble, 2012). This field was chosen due to its public character. First and foremost, when interacting with the system of law enforcement, the society sees the use of physical force and weapons, moral damage during detention, unethical behavior during searches, etc. Therefore, the sphere of ethical conduct of operational detention is essential. It includes the improvement of external communications of the system with the society, which will be advantageous for the community as a whole. For officers, the expected benefits will be lower, but a general increase in professionalism in this area will encourage a positive perception of their work by the society. Evaluation of their work will be improved, hence boosting their motivation (Gamble, 2012). Thus, these seminar activities can promote professional behavior from the perspective of ethics.
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Criminal law has a public character. The ethical behavior of its subjects characterizes the legitimacy of authorities and the attitude towards them affecting not only the subjects of law but also the community. The interrelation between ethics and professional behavior requires additional study at the seminar that will increase the ethical conduct of law enforcement officers in five different spheres, which in turn will improve their professional skills and raise the level of communication with the society.