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The Courts and You An Introduction to Criminal Justice and Law on GTA World Have you ever wondered how criminal justice actually works on GTA World? It's a bit more complicated than straight-forward cops n' robbers. Ever wondered how you can integrate this kind of roleplay into your gangster character without being a "street lawyer"? Look no further - this guide should set you on the right path. The Principal Actors There are a few actors in the criminal justice system - the main people who have roles to play in the system. These are the people with the power in this system, and they all keep each other in balance. These actors keep each other in check through a system of intricate limitations of each other's powers. The Accused This is you. Police Officers The Police are usually your character's first contact with the Criminal Justice system. They are the ones who you interact with and who enforce the law on a day to day basis. There are certain elements of proof that a Peace Officer must fulfill. Peace Officers are empowered by the state to enforce the law, but there are a lot of rules that go along with conducting an arrest. If any of these rules, laws, or procedures are allegedly broken - that is where the courts come in. Internal Affairs The Police also employ Internal Affairs (Infernal Repairs) to keep their own department in check. Investigators are employed by the department to enforce internal policies and to conduct internal investigations of misconduct. Internal Affairs is there to respond to allegations of professional misconduct and criminality within the department as the first line of defense, however, its primary purpose is to analyze and respond to risk factors within the department. Internal Affairs often works closely with department legal affairs and city attorneys in order to reduce potential sources of risk and to ensure the department, as an entity, cannot be held liable in the event of misconduct. The Superior Court The Courts serve a role in the Criminal Justice system as a regulatory entity, separate from any legal entity. The Courts are not on anybody's side - either the police or the accused. The first level of the courts is the Superior Court of San Andreas, overseen by judges and justices of the judiciary. The Superior Court, in the Criminal Justice System, serves as a remedy for any person who is accused of a crime. If you are accused, you have the right to appeal your charges through the courts directly, in the form of a Probable Cause Hearing and later a Criminal Trial. I've been Arrested, now what? So, you've been arrested by a Peace Officer, who has accused you of a crime. After they have thrown you in jail or prison, there are two routes you can go on (you can do both) in order to seek out a solution to your arrest if you have been wrongly arrested or if your rights have been violated. You can seek out a remedy through Internal Affairs or the courts. This is the part where you should get a lawyer if your character would not know how to answer these questions. This is how you can get involved with Criminal Justice without being a "street lawyer" - get yourself a public defender and they'll handle a lot of this. Ask yourself these questions... Have your rights been violated? Example: Did the police wrongly search you, your property, or your vehicle without reasonable suspicion or probable cause? Was there misconduct present during the arrest? Example: Did the police wrongly beat you, tase you when you were not resisting, shoot you whilst you were unarmed, etc.? Have the charges been falsely applied? Example: Did the police arrest you for Battery when it should have been assault? Are you completely innocent of certain charges? (Could be all charges, or just a few...) Example: Did the police arrest you for Possession of a Firearm when you didn't even have a firearm? If any of the above are true, then you can go to either Internal Affairs or the courts (or both). What is Evidence, though? What counts and what doesn't count as evidence? There are different levels of evidence in law, and they are all used for different things. These standards are the ones employed in the United States, and the ones which the courts follow. There are a lot more standards in United States Law, but these are the important ones to the courts in GTAW. Some Evidence This standard of proof is established in Superintendent v. Hill (1985) and applies mostly to Correctional Facilities. Per Superintendent v. Hill, a prisoner's privileges and abilities within a correctional facility can be revoked or reduced in response to violations of correctional facility procedures, policies, or correctional rehabilitation codes. The case refers specifically to a person's access to "good conduct" privileges, and establishes that some evidence needs to be present to justify the action by correctional officials. Essentially, what this means is that DOC officials can't just lock a person up in solitary confinement for no reason. Burden of Proof Reasonable Suspicion Reasonable Suspicion is a standard which was established long before Terry v. Ohio, but which was given more clarification by the landmark case. Reasonable Suspicion is a standard which is applied mostly to Peace Officers as they are involved with detaining a person. In order to detain a person, there needs to be a degree of evidence to which a reasonable person would believe a crime is about to be committed, is currently being committed, or has just recently been committed by a person. When reasonable suspicion is present, then a Peace Officer can detain a person temporarily. While no standard is currently set in stone for the amount of time a person can be detained on GTAW, this is subject to a reasonable standard as well - a detainment must be subjective and narrow in scope. The legal standard, in real life, has held that a Terry stop can last up to about an hour, sometimes more and most times less, depending on the reason for the stop. The Supreme Court, in Terry v. Ohio (1968), stated that reasonable suspicion requires "specific, articulable, and individualized suspicion that crime is afoot". This degree of proof goes beyond a gut feeling by a Peace Officer - it requires that some sort of evidence be present. This degree of proof was further clarified in DeBerry v. United States (1996) that an anonymous tip to a police emergency line is not enough to establish reasonable suspicion - some other sort of evidence must be present to justify a detainment against a person's will. Contrary to the decision rendered in DeBerry, Navarette v. California established that reasonable suspicion may be established given a specific and credible tip to a police tip line. The interpretation of credibility is often up to the court to decide. Reasonable Suspicion is used in order to justify a detainment of a person or a Terry frisk (a pat-down of the outer part of the clothing for officer safety purposes). Stop and Frisk is unlawful under current interpretations of the 4th Amendment, as published in federal court decision Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al. Summary: Police cannot detain you against your will without establishing Reasonable Suspicion. They must inform you of the crime you are suspected of being involved with. Police cannot randomly stop you. A 911 Call does not always establish Reasonable Suspicion. (Navarette v. California, DeBerry v. United States) Reasonable Suspicion, if present, allows police to conduct a Terry frisk or an informational detainment. Probable Cause Probable Cause is the next level of evidence often encountered in the Criminal Justice system. The standard is fairly well defined in the current codex of laws in the United States, and applies solely to Peace Officers establishing enough evidence to justify an arrest. This is the standard required in order to temporarily deprive a person of their freedom through an arrest, and the standard required in order to bring a person to criminal proceedings under certain charges. In real life, a Grand Jury determines whether probable cause exists to justify an arrest - however, here on GTAW, a Police Officer determines if there is enough to arrest you and then a judge can make a final decision if you make an appeal. Probable Cause is also the level of evidence required for a Police Officer to search your immediately-present property during an arrest situation. If you are arrested (not just given a traffic ticket) for a traffic offense, for example, then a Police Officer would have established Probable Cause for Arrest, and therefore can search any property involved with the incident. That means they can conduct a full search (pockets, backpacks, etc.). They cannot conduct a full search without at least probable cause established. In the above example, during an arrest in a traffic situation, they could search your vehicle as well - but, naturally, they cannot search your house. If you are arrested in a domestic violence situation in your house, then they could search your house but not your car -- they can search anything which is reasonable to believe would have been involved with (or contain supporting evidence for) the reason they are conducting the arrest. This standard is also used to establish just cause for a Search Warrant, Warrant for Surveillance, or an Arrest Warrant. When Police Officers make an application for these types of warrants, the judge will often scrutinize and require that certain affidavits or articles of evidence be submitted to the court to justify the issuance of the warrant. This ties into a judge's professional responsibility to uphold the rights of the citizen as well as to support law enforcement. In order to conduct an arrest, Probable Cause for Arrest is needed. In order for a person to be convicted of an offense, there must be reason to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is guilty. Summary: Police cannot arrest you without establishing Probable Cause for Arrest. Police cannot search things outside the scope of an arrest if they have Probable Cause for Arrest. Police cannot get a warrant without Probable Cause for Arrest. Preponderance of the Evidence Preponderance of the Evidence is a standard of evidence often applied in civil cases - it is not a high enough standard to convict a person of a crime, but it is a high enough standard to be used in administrative proceedings and civil trials. In the Criminal Justice system, it is the standard most often applied by Internal Affairs. Preponderance of the Evidence is a grey area which refers to a balance of the evidence. Generally speaking, this is thought of as the "51% rule". Essentially it means that evidence, in order to establish a preponderance, must show that a certain event is more likely than not to have occurred in the way the claimant has told it. Internal Affairs often uses this standard to determine whether a Peace Officer is guilty of misconduct. If they investigate and it's more likely that the officer did something wrong than that they didn't do something wrong, then they will often uphold the claim and take action. Peace Officers may even have room to sue or appeal to a Board of Rights for reprieve if action is taken against them without a Preponderance of Evidence being established by Internal Affairs. Beyond Reasonable Doubt Beyond Reasonable Doubt is the end-all be-all of the Criminal Justice System and it's the most simple of them all. If there is enough evidence that a reasonable person would believe the person has committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then a person's freedom can be taken away from them for a long term of time (their prison sentence). But, this brings forth the question - what is a reasonable doubt? This is where judges come in for a full criminal trial. A reasonable doubt is any sort of doubt which a reasonable person would have, given all of the evidence before them. In real life, a jury panel is presented both sides of the case and finally retreats into a jury chamber to discuss (deliberate) the merits of each side and how the evidence applies to each side. The jury finally comes down to a vote to determine if there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to suggest guilt. What is Reasonable? Reasonable is a word in law which is used very loosely, but it actually has a very specific definition which is applied by the courts. There are a few definitions of Reasonable, based on the situation and the people involved. Each of these standards refer to a hypothetical, theoretical person who meets a certain categorical definition. Reasonable Person Standard A reasonable person is a person who is capable of exercising average care, skill, and judgment which can be expected of an average and capable adult. Reasonable Professional Standard A reasonable professional is a reasonable person who possesses a professional skill (lawyer, Police Officer, judge, medical professional, etc.). This standard is applied in cases of professional misconduct. Reasonable Child Standard A reasonable child is a reasonable person of minor age - the reasonable person standard is adjusted to meet the average care, skill, and judgment which can be expected of a child. Out of Character Evidence Out of Character Evidence is what powers the whole system. There are certain types of in-character evidence, such as Police Dashcam/Bodycam, videos, recordings, etc. which must be backed up by screenshots, Shadowplay, Plays.TV output, etc. Without out of character evidence, the validity of these sorts of evidence can fall into question by a judge or by Internal Affairs. This also extends to proving that certain roleplay, such as starting a recording, took place. Audio Recordings You must show that you roleplayed both obtaining and configuring an audio device like a wire, mole, phone etc. You must show that you roleplayed activating the device, in the case of using a phone. Video Recordings You must show that you roleplayed starting the video recording, usually with an animation or emote to show where the camera is being aimed. Additionally, OOC evidence can be used to clarify what in-character evidence would show, even if it is not your evidence. You can submit screenshots, videos, etc. in order to show. The general idea is that we want as many perspectives as possible so that we can determine what would, and what would not be shown in a certain piece of in-character evidence. What are the steps in all of this? The official documentation can get confusing at times. 1. The Arrest So, once you've been arrested the Peace Officers are going to file paperwork and evidence within their department. This usually consists of an Arrest Report. The Arrest Report is going to have a few elements attached to it: The names of the officer(s) involved. The date, time, and location of the incidents. A detailed description of what happened leading up to the arrest. The charges which are filed against you. Attachments of the evidence which supports all of this. The arrest report is the primary document which is used in the probable cause hearing, if you decide to proceed. At the time of the arrest, your character is assumed guilty until an appeal is filed. If your character does not file an appeal, then your character will have a criminal record for the rest of their life - however, if they do file a Criminal Appeal then they can enter a plea if they choose. At this point, you can choose to enter a Criminal Appeal... or go to Internal Affairs. 2. Probable Cause Hearing The Probable Cause Hearing is the first step of appeal. If you are arrested for anything, you can file a Probable Cause Hearing immediately and a judge will look over it as soon as possible. The judge will not be looking for any sort of merit in your case, nor will they hear any full arguments - they are looking for one single thing, Probable Cause. When you file a Criminal Appeal, you are essentially saying to the court that the arresting officer did not have probable cause for one or more charges filed. The judge will look into the arrest report filed and any evidence attached to it, then determine if the arresting officer has established Probable Cause for Arrest. This phase has one of two outcomes: Probable Cause Established. The accused (you) can now go forward to a full trial by filing a Notice of Further Appeal if they wish to make a full argument. Probable Cause Not Established. The arresting agency (LSPD) or the District Attorney can request a full trial by filing a Notice of Further Appeal if they wish to make a full argument. 3. Appeal Phase This is the phase where Internal Affairs will usually pick up a case and begin investigating to mitigate risk in a given situation. The Appeal refers to either going to Internal Affairs, or the courts, or both. Internal Affairs will look for evidence to establish a preponderance of evidence one way or another, then make a final determination in accordance with the findings of an investigation. The courts will look for evidence in arguments to establish evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. If Internal Affairs renders a decision, you can go to the courts to appeal that decision. 4. The Judgment The final verdict rendered by the courts can be appealed once, to the Supreme Court. Once the Supreme Court has rendered a decision, the decision is final and cannot usually be appealed - the court can reconsider certain precedents set in future hearings and overturn their own decisions, however all inferior courts are required to abide by the current judgments and precedents as set forth by the Supreme Court. But how can I do all of this without becoming a "street lawyer"? One big fear people have is: what happens if my character is a gangster and I don't want to roleplay them as being a hood lawyer? You're right - it's not realistic for your common street criminal to have extensive law knowledge. Not only is it unrealistic, but gangsters who have excessive lawyer-like tendencies are simply annoying on an out-of-character basis. There are certain things which it is realistic for your character to know about the Criminal Justice system, and other things which only a lawyer (or other law professional) might know. Things an Average Person might know: The average person is obviously going to know that Police Officers are the ones who arrest people, and that the courts exist. Your character might even know what the courts do, but not necessarily how to do those things. So, for example, your character might be aware that Criminal Appeals are a thing that can happen, but they might not know how to necessarily file the paperwork to make that happen. Knowing what something is, versus how to do it -- bridging that gap is what law school is for. The average person is obviously going to know what a lawyer is, and might know how to hire one. Things an Average Person probably doesn't know: The average person probably doesn't know how to file a Criminal Appeal, unless they look up some kind of guide online. This is a grey area, so you can roleplay realistically filing a Probable Cause Hearing -- but I would probably draw the line at the trial phase. It would probably be unrealistic for a person to defend themselves if they're a street hoodlum, unless they spent a really excessive amount of time in the law library studying up on laws. Once again, this is completely possible -- I have done it in real life and self-represented in real life, so I can say it's not as complicated as it seems but it's all up to how smart your character is.