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Criminal Justice Process


The essay focuses on the trial phase of the criminal justice system. The trial comes after the filing of a case with the police and a subsequent arrest after which the person is charged with the crime. However, the person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the trial process. Most people get into the criminal justice system through arrest and their performance at one stage determines their consideration for the next stage or their release.

The Australian criminal justice system consists of a number of bureaucratic institutions run by the state for the purpose of dealing with offenders of the law. The justice system involves a number of interdependent justice agencies, each with its own unique function. The major criminal justice personnel and agencies include the police, prosecution, courts, community corrections, prisons, victim support groups, and defence lawyers. Disputes over the justice of the system come from certain agencies and each agency must be thorough and professional in their roles to eliminate all ambiguity[ CITATION Pro17 l 1033 ].

The Trial Process

The trial stage comes after a suspect is arrested, charged, arraigned in court (where the defendant pleads either guilty, not guilty, or the lack of the intention to contest the charges), preliminary hearing, and the pre-trial motion[ CITATION Jus17 l 1033 ]. The trial process commences when the defendant maintains the plea of ‘not guilty.’ The trial process is the final determinant of whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty after which the final action follows. The final action of a guilty defendant comes as a punishment in serving a jail term, paying a fine, or both. The defendant reaches the jury trial stage after continually pleading not guilty and the lack of evidence to prove his/her innocence during the preliminary hearing and the pre-trial processes[ CITATION Car17 l 1033 ].

The trial process involves parties such as the judge, the jury, the defendant, the witnesses of the defendant and plaintiff (s), and the lawyers. This stage is critical because it determines whether the defendant is charged or released. The same stage determines the type and length of sentence that the defendant receives[ CITATION Rul15 l 1033 ]. This stage could result in numerous misconceptions where the defendant is represented by an uncompetitive lawyer, where there is a bias on the part of the judge and/ or the jury, and where the witnesses are not composed enough to convince the jury and the judge of their story. The defendant also plays a role in the determination of the outcome of the trial process by the consistency of their defence claim, the consistency of their claim, and the positive results of the polygraph in cases where one is used.

Causes of Wrongful Conviction in the Trial Process

The dependence on polygraphs (lie detectors) to determine the direction of a case is one of the reasons of wrongful conviction during the trial. A report in the Chicago tribune reports several cases of false confessions because of the psychological impact of the results on the defendant[ CITATION Bar13 l 1033 ]. Rivera continually pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of an eleven-year-old girl in Chicago, a stand that he changed after the error report of the police to journalists that he flunked the polygraph test. The truth was only discovered about twenty years later during which he served in prison after further investigations and a fight for DNA tests that proved his innocence. The results of polygraphs, gadgets whose responses depend on the heartbeat rate and blood pressure, also affect the other people involved in such a trial where the trial turns into a session of pushing the defendant to plead guilty instead of the correct trial where the focus is the determination of the truth by the use of evidence and witness testimonies[ CITATION Jef12 l 1033 ].

The psychological impact of biased trials and polygraph results are potential hindrances to a just trial process because of the bias that comes with the results. The defendant also reaches a point of helplessness and gives a false confession to get it over with since the interrogators are convinced of his ‘guilt,’ [ CITATION Dua13 l 1033 ]. Another example was in Fox, a man accused of the rape and murder of his 3-year daughter and further put into jail for eight months after the DNA results proved otherwise. Only after the additional evidence was he released and awarded $8 million for the wrongful conviction.

The other cause of wrongful convictions is eyewitness misidentification and false confessions. This goes hand in hand with false witnesses that come and give false witnesses because they have been paid to do so. Misidentification occasionally happens because of the failure of a clear memory of the state of events at the time and inconsistent results. About 25% of exonerations come after DNA test results even when there had been witness testimonies accusing the defendant[ CITATION New171 l 1033 ].

Although most law enforcement officers act in good faith and are just in their dealings, there are numerous cases of prosecutorial and police misconduct where the police officers exhibit unlawful and unfair behavior[ CITATION Aus17 l 1033 ]. Such misconduct comes in various ways such as questioning with the intention to make the person confess rather than listening to their story, the use of coercive investigations, the fabrication and withholding of evidence, and the use of suggestive investigation methods with leading questions. There were 183 exonerations in 2013 in Australia after the conviction of innocent defendants after the use of polygraphs[ CITATION Mor13 l 1033 ]. In Australia, wrongful convictions are compensated by the government after the evidence of innocence[ CITATION Adr08 l 1033 ].

Invalid forensic reports are another cause of wrongful convictions. This could include the use of forensic research methods that are not conclusive and approved by the scientific community. Numerousconvictionshave are overturned by the different proof that comes with DNA results. There is, therefore, need for higher standards of the forensic evidence that is presented in court. There are also instances where the defendant encounters a poor defence lawyer who fails to argue the case as efficiently as the lawyer of the plaintiff[ CITATION Lyn12 l 1033 ].

Procedural strategies required to reduce chances of wrongful conviction

The trial process involves a lot of emotional turmoil and confusion among the involved participants. It is even worse among defendants facing panels that are convinced of their guilt even before they are proven so [ CITATION Cha17 l 1033 ].

Demonstrate ability to critically discuss issues that relating to psychological research examining the various causes of wrongful conviction and practical/procedural strategies that minimize the margin of error

The Psychology of the Trial Judging Process: Procedural strategies that increase the likelihood of a just Trial outcome

The two types of trial procedures include the adversarial and inquisitorial procedures. The adversarial method consists of a judge that plays a passive role and where the issue is developed in the presence of the legal representatives of the plaintiff and defendants. The evidence is also done before the parties involved and the legal representatives. The ruling is then done by the judge or the jury. The inquisitorial procedure is one where the judge plays an authoritarian role, the judge presents the evidence and presents the evidence and eventually, the decision is made by the jury and the judge.

Psychological research is done on the judges to determine the factors that differentiate them from laypersons. Such factors include their professional training which determines their ruling, they are trained to look at the evidence presented to them at the moment and not reason or intuition. The law overrules all other beliefs and thoughts about a case. It is for such reasons that some people face unreasonable sentences for minor offenses because of existing laws[ CITATION Dan16 l 1033 ].

One of the things that can be done to avoid injustices is the use of physical scientific evidence instead of hypothetical theories from unreliable forensic results to avoid wasting people in prison with unjust convictions. The close observance of law enforcement officers is also essential and possible through the installation of cameras in their stations and the collaboration of other legal enforcers in the collection and presentation of evidence. Those ways, the chances of concealing evidence are reduced and the treatment of arrested persons monitored. It is also essential to reduce the use and reliance of polygraphs because of their impact on the defendants, especially where the defendant fails the polygraph tests.

The combination of both the adversarial and inquisitorial during the trial can also help, especially in relation to the reduction of the intimidation and cornering of witnesses and defendants during trial. Such should increase the chances of fairness during the trial. Since it is a complicated process, the immediate goals could be the establishment of more strict procedures to ensure that the legal representatives do not push the defendant or the other clients such as the plaintiff to the corner with complex advancements that people without legal knowledge may not understand[ CITATION Nei11 l 1033 m Joy17].

The adversarial process consists of legal representatives whose primary purpose is to win the case irrespective of the guilt or innocence of their client. The questioning process and the presentation of evidence is done by the legal representatives who do all that is within their power to make the opposite party admit fault. Psychologists have conducted numerous studies on trial processes with the little attention of the judges.


It is important to pay more attention to the trial processes to reduce and if possible eliminate the cases of wrongful convictions in Australia. Further technology and psychological research is essential for the enhancement of the criminal justice system. The trial process commences when the defendant maintains the plea of ‘not guilty.’ The trial process is the final determinant of whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty after which the final action follows. The final action of a guilty defendant comes as a punishment for doing jail term, paying a fine, or both. The Australian criminal justice system consists of a number of bureaucratic institutions run by the state for the purpose of dealing with offenders of the law.


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