The Lawfulness of the Use of Force

In specific situations, a police officer is authorized to use physical action in the service of legitimate goals. The use of power isn't always defined in the same way. It is defined as the level of force a cop must employ to subdue a suspect who resists. The Graham v. Connor case from 1989 serves as the foundation for a claim of use of force. The Supreme Court told lower courts to base their assessment of the legality of a force use event on three criteria. Since then, the use of excessive force has been determined using the Graham Reasonability exam. The first step in determining the reasonableness is to balance between the nature of the crime against the violation of the government interest.

The next includes determining three critical points

The first being the extremity of the wrong the officer believes the defendant to have done. The second point to consider is whether the suspect posed a threat to the police officer or the public (Arend & Beck, 2014). The third key point to consider is whether the suspect was acting in a way to suggest they were resisting an arrest or trying to escape. Further, the Supreme Court went on to caution that to examine the reasonableness of excessive force it is essential to consider that police officers are led to make quick decisions in tense, uncertain, and sporadic situations. Moreover, it is critical to measure the amount of force based on what the officer knew at the scene as opposed to a 20/20 hindsight. There have been some additions to the Graham test over the years. Further, if there is a right to use force, there is also a right to use some amount of excessive force because not all events of shoving or pushing are a violation of the Fourth Amendment. More so, it is not essential to consider the underlying motives in such cases.

A police officer's options have their foundation on the actions of the suspect. An officer should not use force if the suspect complies with an arrest. There exists a subjective component from the determination of the force to use and the method of deployment. An officer has many reasonable options but will use one because of personal preference. Nonetheless, the officer's decision must depend on objective facts which are understood by the officer during the application of force.

Comparing Defense Doctrines

The castle doctrine and stand your ground defenses are defenses fighting for people who have licensed weapons charged with criminal homicide. The common law of the Castle Doctrine states that a person can make use of reasonable force as well as deadly force when an intruder invades their home or any other place legally occupied such as inside a car to defend their belonging's person or another. The law has been incorporated into law by forty-six states. Florida passed the stand your ground doctrine in 2005 expanding on the castle doctrine premise. The bill is applicable in 24 states (McClellan & Tekin, 2016). Previously, while a person was outside their home, they must have retreated if possible before resolving to use force that is reasonable to protect themselves. The Stand-your-ground doctrine allows an individual to utilize reasonable force in self-defense while outside their home but not trespassing when there exists a reasonable belief of a threat even though it is possible to retreat. The person can also use deadly force in certain instances such they can see a probable injury or death. The two laws are the two of the most robust protections for gun owners in the United States. The castle doctrine only protects people in specific locations, unlike the stand-alone principle. A victim of a violent attack cannot be convicted as a criminal because they acted in the best way they could when they were faced with a brutal attack. It is the obligation of the law to protect them without a question of the options they had or they may have chosen in the face of an attack. A castle doctrine would apply if a person shoots an intruder who comes into their home and a standalone doctrine would apply if lets a person attacks another in a public area.

The Double Jeopardy Clause

The double jeopardy clause in the constitution protects criminal defendants from having to face prosecution more than one time for the same offense with exceptions. In most state courts, there is a guarantee for defendants even in those that have no strong guarantee because the Bill of Rights applies to every state as well as local governments (Johnson, 2014). The double jeopardy protection exists for a variety of reasons which include the prevention of the government from convicting and wearing down innocent individuals with the use of their superior resources. It also offers protection from financial, emotional, and social consequences that are associated with successive prosecutions. It also helps in the preservation of finality and integrity that arise from criminal court hearings to avoid compromise. Further, the double jeopardy clause offers restriction to prosecutorial discretion in the charging process. Moreover, it removes the choice of the judiciary on the imposition of cumulative punishments which are not illegal.

The Adversarial System

The adversarial system is not the best method for the current legal system in the United States. The truth highly depends on those who know it, what is known and the complex because there are more than two sides to reality. The adversarial system has two competing sides which may act as a hindrance to the legal system. The model assumes that the self-interest of the two parties will bring the relevant material that is required by the court. The judge implies that the two sides are well aware of what they are doing. The judge must come up with a formula to strike a balance between the two contending parties while staying out of the disputations. A model that uses the self-interest of other to determine the outcome of a case is not reliable.

The Right to a Speedy Trial

Any individual who stands accused should have a right to a speedy trial in the presence of an impartial jury as accorded by the Sixth Amendment. A person must be brought to trial within a short while after being arrested, and they must face a jury which must find the guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is unconstitutional for law enforcers to delay the prosecution of an individual or the prolonged or unfounded imprisonment of an individual. Further, the right to a speedy trial reduces the anxiety associated with a case resolution. It also protects the defendant ability to form a defense against charges.


Arend, A. C., & Beck, R. J. (2014). International law and the use of force: beyond the UN Charter paradigm. Routledge.

Johnson, M. (2014). Fifteen Years and Death: Double Jeopardy, Multiple Punishments, and Extended Stays on Death Row. BU Pub. Int. LJ, 23, 85.

McClellan, C., & Tekin, E. (2016). Stand your ground laws, homicides, and injuries. Journal of Human Resources, 0613-5723R2.

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