Judges and Prosecutors
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Criminal procedure is composed of the rules that regulate the inquiry into whether a violation of a criminal law has been committed and whether the person who has been accused of it really committed the crime. It involves six stages: the investigation stage, the arrest stage, the pretrial stage, the appeal stage and the serving sentence stage.
In the federal criminal justice system, broad discretion is practiced by both the prosecutors and the judges in sentencing. Discretion is the authority not to prosecute, investigate or punish to the full extent available under the law. The authority decides whether and to what extent to enforce the law in a particular case.
Law enforcement officers
The law enforcement officers have discretion in the investigation, arrest and the serving stages of the criminal procedure. For example, a law enforcement officer exercises his/her discretion when he/she pulls a motorist and he has discretion to issue a speeding ticket to the motorist or only given a stern warning to the motorist. They conduct an investigation on a certain person and after all facts have been gathered they decide whether to arrest or not the criminal for the crime committed. These officers should exercise their discretion in a legitimate way, if a crime has been committed; an arrest has to be made unless it is a petty crime that can be easily solved without going through all the stages.
The prosecutor has discretion in the pre-trial stage if a crime is committed against an individual. The prosecutor has the last chance to say on whether to charge the perpetrator or the victim. He will gather all the evidence, examine the case and then he will decide whether to charge the perpetrator. The prosecutor has the ability to send or not a criminal to trial, he is, therefore, carries out this discretion in good faith, if a crime was really committed and a victim is hurt or at a loss it is hence proper for the criminal to face trial.
The judge has discretion in the trial and appeal stage. He is able to decide what amount of fine to give to a person in his court or whether to continue with the case. He gathers all the facts regarding the case and will craft a suitable punishment for this perpetrator. Likewise, in the appeal stage applies the same. The judge decides whether to take the criminal to jail or just release him at a fine, the judge needs to make this decision and release only those people that cannot go back and harm society.