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From a Lawman’s Perspective

Almost everyone has heard the expression ‘due process rights’ but many never consider what it really means. It is easy to have preconceived ideas about the guilt of accused persons because victims of crime have already been denied their rights. Law enforcement officers take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and it requires that they assure due process rights for everyone. Due process comes in two forms. The first form is ‘substantive’ and is the system that is laid out by the U.S. Constitution. It covers things like search and arrest warrant requirements, self incrimination protection, right to an attorney and other rights that are assured. ‘Procedural’ due process specifies the way the protections are assured, and in law enforcement we insure that procedure. The Fourth Amendment limits governmental intrusion in the lives of citizens by guaranteeing the security of people, their homes, their papers; requiring warrants for searches and arrests. These warrants must specifically identify the persons, the places, and the items that are to be sought; and no warrant, without probable cause, is permitted. Illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible. The Fifth Amendment prohibits the requirement of any person to testify against himself. It also prohibits double jeopardy or the trial of the same person more than once for the same offense. Cases must be prepared completely and correctly, with all the due process considerations. There will be only one chance. The Sixth Amendment assures the right to have an attorney. We must advise suspects of their rights before the interrogation process begins, including their right to have an attorney present. Preservation of due process rights is not a handicap placed upon law enforcement but is a continuation of the fundamental fairness that is a right of all Americans. Editor’s Note: The preceding article was written by Sheriff Larry Waller

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